A Spoonful Of Sugar

July 26, 2016

When I was younger, I was incapable of swallowing tablets. I just couldn’t do it. It seemed at odds to everything you were taught as a child about chewing before swallowing and the like. My mum would tell me that swallowing a tablet was easy, but I was having none of it.

Incidentally, in one of the greatest childhood betrayals of my life, it later transpired that my mother – the woman who stood there and told my sister and me that swallowing tablets was easy – has never swallowed a tablet in her life.

So when things occured which needed treating with that old staple of the medicine cabinet (or, in our case, margarine tub) paracetamol, it was dispensed crushed up in a spoonful of jam.

There is not a jam on this planet that can hide the flavour of paracetamol. In fact, I would say there is not a foodstuff on the planet you could hide a crushed up tablet inside a spoonful and let it pass the lips of a child unnoticed.

But times have moved on. I have learnt how to swallow tablets. Mum was right, it is easy. Although there are still the odd few occasions where I am left with the tablet in my mouth having managed to only swallow the liquid intended to wash the tablet down.

I started thinking about paracetamol in jam tonight, as I lay in my death bed fighting off the rigors of whatever strain of man flu is currently making me feel like absolute shite.

Because I’m sure that a Lemsip drink is just a pharmaceutical company’s attempt at the mum method of mixing nasty and nice. Honey and lemon, you think, as you look at the box – those are tasty flavours. You conveniently forget thirty years ago when strawberry jam promised to mask the pure evil of a mashed up tablet.

Has anyone ever drunk a full lemsip without pulling a disgusted face at least once?


Coming Like A Poke-Ball

July 25, 2016

I had a look online today at the latest stories concerning Pokemon Go.

I’ve been playing the game for a couple of weeks now and I still haven’t lured anyone into a van, robbed anyone or unsuitably interacted with a child – all things which are said to happen when you play the game because, you know, video games are bad.

But, it would appear, people are now having to be reminded that they really shouldn’t trespass while playing the game.

Again, it’s been two weeks and I have, so far, not trespassed once.

Maybe I am playing it wrong. Maybe I’m not just supposed to click on the Pokemon when it pops up on the map and then try and catch it. Maybe I really am supposed to walk until my avatar, with attractive long socks, is right on top of it before I start throwing my balls into its face. Even if that Pokemon is in a river, a minefield or someone’s house.

You really wouldn’t think that people have to be told this stuff. But then, two men walked off a cliff while playing the game so there’s not a lot of hope. Maybe it’s actually some sort of Evolutionary test. It’s not just a harmless – and it is harmless, no matter how hard the likes of the Daily Mail will try and make you think otherwise – ramble around catching things that don’t exist in places where they aren’t really there. But which no-one who doesn’t play the game can get their head around, constantly questioning why or how the Pokemon has got where it has got.

Maybe Pokemon Go is the ladder to the next evolutionary step. Those who don’t die for not paying attention attain genetic dominance over people who meander across train tracks and hang out under electricity pylons flying kites to kill the time as they wait for a Voltorb to show up. Maybe, as we evolve to have flatter ended fingers that better allow us to swipe a Pokeball in a straight line and not just hook it to the side so that you end up calling yourself names in the middle of a busy Leeds pavement, hypothetically, it will all be for a reason. Our ability to not walk off a cliff, into traffic or be bundled into the back of a man’s van because we’ve been out at 1am collecting Pokemon from a lure in the seediest part of town will count for something in the coming months.

In much the same way as people say you should have an app which won’t let you call or text people when you’re drunk, Pokemon Go should be fitted with a safety feature in which you have to conclusively prove you are not a fricking idiot before you’re allowed to use it. The Pokemon go players who end up in people’s gardens, or whatever, are the mobile gaming equivalent of truck drivers who happily drive their massive wagons down increasingly narrow country lanes.

That’s not a fair representation of the rest of the lorry drivers. Or the rest of the Pokemon Go players.

Give the rest of us some credit, because I think we’d all happily distance ourselves from them given a choice.


July 24, 2016

One thing I enjoy the most about a Sunday morning visit to the cinema is Carole’s insistence on us being there early. We have to get there, you see, because it will be busy.

It’s never busy. Not even that time we were a whole hour early.

Today we arrived at the car park for the Showcase and there were three other cars in it. And two of those were boys who get hard ons just looking at a twin exhaust, comparing the relative merits of their two cars before they took off for a classic red car/blue car tussle along the highways and byways of the Birstall region. Normally we only see those sorts of shenanigans in the car park of Tesco in Brighouse, so it was a treat to see them away from their natural habitat.

As we sat there, in the car, a few more cars arrived and we played the game we like to play “Guess what film they are seeing…”

There was a guy who looked like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons who Caz pegged immediately as being someone who would be joining us in a viewing of Star Trek. I mean, it wasn’t much of a creative leap to come up with that deduction. You wouldn’t have stunned all the coppers of Scotland Yard if you’d rocked up and claimed to be the World’s Greatest Detective. Or is that Batman, rather than Sherlock Holmes?

Oh no, wait, Sherlock Holmes is the World’s Greatest fictional detective. Thay’s how you tell the difference.

And he did turn up in the audience of our screening. Carole smugly pointing out that she deduced it. Not that there was any doubt.

There would have been more doubt if he’d beamed in to the screening than there was having seem him purchase a ticket. His hands dancing across the surface of the touchscreen like Wesley Crusher taking the Enterprise for a spin.


Hound Ball

July 23, 2016

There’s a dog that lives a couple of houses down the road from us.

I mean, it lives with humans. It’s not in someway anthropomorphic and on the property ladder. It’s a pet. Of human people. Who live in the house. The dog lives with them. I think. Or maybe it doesn’t. Because it seems like a fairly new addition and there was a time a few weeks ago they were dog-sitting a pug. So maybe they are dog sitting this one. I hope they’re not though, and that it’s a permanent feature because it’s very entertaining.

The other night it was outside and just barked at me constantly. And every time it barked it jumped forward a little bit so while it may have thought it was in some way threatening what it was actually pulling off was amusingly cute. I mean, I was two gardens away. If I’d been next to it I might have been shitting myself, but I doubt it.

Today it’s been outside and there’s not been a peep from it.

There was some whimpering, though, during a period in which I became a silent supporter of the dog and its endeavours.

There is a small squeaky football which it plays with. This ball had been taken from the dog, who was alone in the garden, and placed dead centre of a garden table. The dog could see the ball, but the dog could not reach the ball.

And so began the ballet of dog and ball.

At first the dog just looked at the ball, from afar. It could see it, but it knew there was no hope of reaching it. There were pathetic whimpers of sadness, and then long forlorn looks at the back door of the house through which no human emerged. More whimpering, still no human. No bipedal method of ball recovery was forthcoming.

I could have gone and got it but it’s surely not my place, so I did what any good BBC Wildlife camera operator would do, and let nature take its course.

The dog then took to problem solving. It examined the table from all angles. The table was round. The ball was in the centre. No one point offered an advantage over any other. One portion was inaccessible due to there being a house in the way, otherwise all the table was open for the taking.

The table analysed, it then became an matter of experimenting with putting front legs on the table. What did that gain? Nothing except a better view of the ball the dog still couldn’t reach. Again and again the two-legged approach and again and again a disappointing result.

And then came the moment when my support went out to the dog.

It took a run up.

An actual run up.

And jumped onto the table. Which it turns out was glass.

I don’t know if you’ve heard a reasonably sized dog jump onto a glass table, but it is a scary noise, especially when you’re the only person around and fairly sure if anything bad happened you would be the one who would do something about it.

Luckily, the glass table survived the assault by the canine, who now stood upon the table with the ball in his jaws.

I wanted to fist pump and shout “yes!” and do all those sorts of things.

Instead I was left watching a dog whose plan for getting the ball had never covered getting off the table.  It paced round and round and round the table. And it wasn’t a large table. Round and round, looking at the grass where it imagined itself playing with the ball. Round and round and round.

Come on, I was thinking, just leap down. Leap! Soar free.

Round and round and round and round and round.

Eventually it dared to jump off.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a reasonably sized dog jump off a glass table before, but it’s a very good – and heart-stopping – example of the whole equal and opposite force thing. Because that table shook like a good ‘un as it slammed into the house wall and I envisaged a moment where I was pulling glass out of a dog’s foot because surely there can’t have been anyone home if they didn’t stir at the sound of a glass table colliding with a structure.

The table, however, did not break.

And the dog and the ball took to the grass.

And every time it snatched up the ball, illiciting a little squeak of joy from the squeaker, it was hard not to think that life was good.


Bed Noms And Broomsticks

July 22, 2016

This morning, when  woke up, I noticed that I had things upon me.

Now, this is not necessarily an unusual occurrence as Peppa tends to pay a visit during the night and, if the temperature of the room necessitates, the duvet has often been thrown to the wind. So I have woken up with muddy paw prints, tree detritus and a variety of other soil, gravel and general gubbins upon my skin.

This morning, though, I reasoned that it couldn’t really be Peppa as I didn’t remember her visiting – as light-footed as she is, it is hard to completely sleep through a cat leaping upon naked flesh and I couldn’t have been subjected to muddy foot prints or other soil adhesions as it has been drier than the bar at a tee-total Christmas party.

And, when I looked further, it looked like I was covered in… wait… poppy seeds?

So, since we got the new mattress Carole has developed a bit of a thing for, when she’s grabbing her tea before I am home because she’s off out to spend the evening in a room full of crafters or whatever, eating sandwiches on the bed while she reads or whatever. I don’t know what this has suddenly happened. I don’t know why she suddenly thinks she’s a teenager and all meals should be taken in the bedroom. These are all mysteries which will stay unsolved, as many things relating to Carole do.

But the fact that she eats sandwiches while perched on the bed goes some way to addressing the issue of me waking up looking like the floor of a bakery after a busy day cutting loaves.

Carole has a soft spot for Sainsbury’s multi-seed loaf. One of the many seeds, for which the loaf is named, is the poppy seed. One of the things the seeds of a multi-seed loaf enjoy doing is parting company with the bread and escaping.

In this case into the folds of the duvet, to later be transferred to the sleeping form of our hero. Which is how I know that poppy seeds have a higher affinity for clammy human flesh than they do for the surface of a freshly baked loaf.

It was like the Just So Story about how the Rhinoceros got its skin. Kind of. I mean, if I said that to Rudyard Kipling now he’d probably be offended, before offering me one of his exceedingly good cakes. Which, in a way, is how the rhinoceros got into that situation in the first place.

So now it stands to reason that I need to exact some kind of revenge upon Carole. But I can’t think of what I could eat in bed that would be suitably messy. I mean, given my propensity to throw any food stuff down my front, the field is pretty much wide open but it really needs to be something that she won’t notice until she wakes up the following morning.

Watch this space…

Yo Ho Ho And A Bottle Of Rum

July 21, 2016

I’ve never really been one to indulge in the whole film piracy thing. I might have watched a couple of films as a dodgy knock off because of some reason or other, but on the whole I have always bought my videos, DVDs, Bluray or cinema tickets the legitimate way.

I actually enjoy the cinema experience. For the most part. I mean, I’d enjoy it more if it was just a room with, say, me and Carole in – like at home, but cinema quality, size and the like. But spending twenty quid to spend a few hours in the company of strangers who can’t stay off Facebook for that time is super good fun.

No, seriously I do enjoy it. And I have for many years. Likewise watching films on video and the like where we used to be treated to an advert which listed a series of things you wouldn’t steal, before showing someone stealing a film and the long arm of the law reaching out for them. Harrowing stuff, I’m sure you’ll all agree.

So I’ve never been one to go in for film piracy.

Until we went to see Ghostbusters.

In that space between the adverts and the trailers there was an anti-piracy advert.

Presented by Ricky Gervais.

Already that got the blood boiling.

Seeing that twat’s smug face on a normal size screen is bad enough, but when it’s several feet tall it’s very disconcerting. Anyway, Ricky proceeded to tell us that film piracy hurts the film industry and takes away vast sums of money from the people who have made the film. He then proceeded to say that pirating his new film “David Brent: I’m A One Trick Pony” could stop him earning, potentially, millions.

It was about then I became a video pirate.

I have never wanted to pirate a video more in my entire life. I  can think of nothing better than pirating the absolute shit out of that film so that Gervais gets not a penny. Carole even suggested we just make a load of copies of it and leave it on street corners around the country so everyone can see it for nothing.

I mean obviously, Ricky wouldn’t be too happy about that and would mount some sort of legal case against us and our very much fictional criminal acts, but then I’m not happy that I have to watch that git-faced goon telling me how many millions he’s going to earn as he flogs a dead horse.

So I think we should make a deal.

I won’t start a criminal enterprise, pirating that tit-weasel’s film and sending a copy to every person in the UK, if he doesn’t pop up before everything I want to see at the cinema – where I pay good money not to see him on the big screen – between now and the release of his over-inflated ego cash cow.

I don’t want to see him before Star Trek or Jason Bourne. I definitely don’t want him anywhere near Suicide Squad.

Or the BFG.

Or Finding Dory.

It’s not too much to ask, is it?

I think it might be.

Mad Dogs And Englishmen

July 20, 2016

Wow, those thunderstorms, eh?

Well, that’s what I hoped I could say today. I can’t, because I spent half the day – literally – asleep, trying to shake off a killer headache-cum-migraine that meant that the hour I spent out of bed this morning was the most painful in some time… especially because instead of those black ominous storm clouds I was subjected to bright sunshine bouncing off my optic nerves and generally making my head throb like a crazy thing.

There was, though, one rumble of thunder. Just one. In the distance. And, if I’m honest, I can’t be sure it wasn’t a truck going down the main road or, indeed, me passing a bit of morning wind. Other than that, of these thunderstorms and flash floods and wotnot, I saw not a peep.

This afternoon, though, I did see a man dressed in a kagool demolish a shed.

Dressed in a kagool.

An item of clothing which roasts the wearer in their own sweat on a cold day. I can only imagine what it was doing to him today. Especially as it was black. And demolishing sheds is work which can conjure up a sweat at the best of times.

I’m just glad my headache had shifted, and I was able to face daylight once more, in order for me to witness such a spectacle.


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