Egg on my face

It’s nearly Easter. The time of year when we celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ through the medium of chocolate eggs which have been left behind by a rabbit. I don’t even know where to start with how wrong that whole arrangement is. Not the Christ bit, I’m steering clear of that lest I be lynched for some blasphemous views on the subject, but a rabbit delivering eggs is just weird. And chocolate eggs at that. But anyway, it’s nearly Easter and I’ve learnt an important lesson.

Jimmy Carr has a little line in one of his live shows that basically says that buying a girl tampax isn’t considered getting her a present. While I have not tried to palm sanitary products off as a loving and thoughtful gift I have crossed a bit of a line this evening. Earlier, in between sponging plastering equipment (and a crowbar) from my girlfriend’s dad, it was mentioned that my petal, my lamb, the love of my life needed to go to Tescos to hunt out some liquorice alsorts for her friend. As she was going to a supermarket anyway I merely took the time to suggest that she picked up an Easter Egg for herself and tell me what I owed her. Apparently this is wrong. Very, very wrong. Apparently I’m supposed to pick an egg myself, hand over my own money to a shop person (or the automated tills if I’m feeling adventurous) and give this to her as a present. I just thought that my idea was better. I can explain.

1) She was going to the supermarket anyway. Any time-and-motion study will tell you that this is the most efficient means of acquiring the egg. As the supermarket was being visited it makes sense that – detour down an aisle stuffed full of eggs would be an appropriate thing to do. As she was going to Tescos for a mere one item I knew that she would have the capability to carry an egg home with her, as evidenced by the fact that as well as the alsorts we now appear to be the proud owners of some hot cross buns and a new top of some description. And (and!) it’s good for the environment. Lessens the carbon footprint and all that. As a household who, about 10 minutes from the end of Earth Hour on Saturday night realised we have EVERY light on in the house we clearly have some kind of environmental debt to make up. A debt which can’t be offset by my tireless quest to root around in the bathroom bit to make sure we’re recycling the middles of loo rolls.

2) She would get the egg she wanted. This, for me, is the clincher. There is a multitude of eggs available. Big eggs, small eggs, eggs in mugs, eggs in tins, eggs in bags, eggs in eggs, eggs with toys in, eggs with notebooks (I kid you not), dark chocolate eggs, milk chocolate eggs, white chocolate eggs, eggs in crispy shells, eggs with chocolate truffle inside. Then there’s the multitude of chocolate things that aren’t eggs. I say multitude. It’s basically rabbits. There’s even a kit-kat with  picture of a rabbit stamped on it, for christ-sakes. What this means, dear reader, is that a fellow such as myself is left with a massive choice and a million ways to screw it up. When we were discussing the egg I was told that I couldn’t get it wrong as they all involve chocolate. I’m sorry? I couldn’t get it wrong. I think I’ll need that in writing please as I can almost guarantee that I could get it wrong. It’s like when you’re told that they don’t want a big gift. They want a big gift. It’s a world of opposites. That’s how girls work. Everything means the opposite.

e.g. “Does my bum look big in this?”  = I know my bum looks big but if you so much as say anything you will die.
        “She seems nice” = She is an absolute bitch. Seriously. If I catch you even mentioning her name you will die.
“I have a headache” = If you put that thing near me again tonight, I’ll tear it off and you will die.

As you can see, most of these elaborate opposites end with “you will die”. So, reading between the lines, if I get the egg choice wrong I will die. I don’t know if that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Through cunning questioning I have managed to rule out any egg with a mug as she’d “rather I spent money on an egg than a mug”. Reading between the lines here I deduce she’s expecting me to spend money on this egg. Not just money. But money all italicy and bold.

Last year I bought a Cadbury’s egg. It was in a tin and it had an egg in an egg in an egg. It cost my about half a month’s wages. It was absolutely shit. We had to look at it through a magnifying glass to make it look anything close to impressive. The tin was huge. The tin was impressive. We still have the tin to remind me, or taunt me, with the memories of this rubbish egg. An egg which came second to the time we bought two drinks and a muffin at a service station on the way to the Lake District and it cost us £9.60. Seriously. Everything we do is measured by that snack break. If that hadn’t happened, everything would be measured by last year’s shitty egg.

So, basically, it’s wrong to ask her to choose the egg she wants and it’s a minefield of bad decisions when it comes to me choosing the egg, at the last minute, in a supermarket. As I look from egg to egg and try and discern the difference between them, or how much of the massive box is air and how much is chocolatey goodness or whether she said she didn’t want a mug because she really wants a mug.

It would just have been easier for her to have picked the egg herself and told me how much I owe her. It really would.


Conspiracy Theory

Today has been a very eventful day. Not for me personally, but in general. For me it’s been a very mundane day involving work and general office things. In other parts of the world, however, boffins have been flinging electrons at other electrons in a bid to discover the building blocks of the universe, and it’s all been very exciting.

There are, of course, the doom-sayers. Those jolly bunch of people who say that the Large Hadron Collider (henceforth referred to as the LHC because I really can’t be arsed with typing Large Hadron Collider every time) has the power to destroy the universe by creating a black hole and sucking us all to our doom. This point did not escape Sky News today who, on the internet news service, stated that the scientists had said that “the black holes created would not have the power to end the human race.” Notice that in this report the scientists had not said “in the unlikely event that a black hole is created” – no, according to Sky a black hole was pretty much inevitable but it wouldn’t be that bad. It would probably just gather a few paperclips and maybe a pen and be gone. Anyone that works in an office will immediately realise that that is no big deal, and more or less a daily occurence.

There are also people, and these are my favourite, who think that the LHC is actually self-aware and the reason previous tests have failed is because the machine knows the power it holds will rip the universe apart and tear reality asunder and decided not to work properly. It did that, quite ingeniously, by psychically convincing a bird to drop a “bit of baguette” into an important working part. That’s how humane the LHC is. It didn’t make the bird itself fly into the machine becoming, in essence, a suicide starling. No, the LHC is too clever for that. As the electrons passed through the various magnets and detectors and all the other technical gubbins that makes up a 17-mile long pipe the LHC was thinking. And at the end of it’s thinking it had determined that the remnant of a french sandwich was the best way to scupper science. 

Today, however, the LHC got over it’s perfomance anxiety – having had a good few months to reflect on the baguette incident, and to think about what it had done, it decided that enough was enough and that, despite what Sky News wanted to hear, no black hole would form. The scientists fired up the machine, the electrons did whatever electrons did and we got collisions and people clapped and cheered and there were some graphs that showed things that I didn’t really understand. The point is, it was awesome. There were live updates via Twitter from Cern and from Professor Brian Cox, the face of the Wonders of the Solar System. There was a live web-feed with commentary explaining the graphs that I didn’t understand (ok, I did a bit – the lines on the graph represented the beams, when the lines matched up collisions would occur. Or something like that anyway). Basically it was ground-breaking science brought to the masses and we all watched, and read the tweets and didn’t understand it all but at the end of the day that doesn’t really matter because we were all genuinely interested in science. It was being conveniently brought to us, and it was awesome.

The last time I was this interested in a scientific event was the slightly ill-fated Beagle 2 mission to Mars. You know, the one that was going to land on Christmas Day and beam back images of the red planet in all it’s glory. Not the one that was swallowed up by the Sycorax while the Doctor regenerated and Rose had to be the voice of Earth until the tea kicked in. Not that one. That one wasn’t real. Apparently. No, Beagle 2. The one we, somehow, managed to land in the only massive crater on the face of Mars. That one. Yes it was a failure, but the fact that it got people interested in science was amazing. And the LHC is exactly the same. Science is alive. Science deserves to be alive. Science is awesome.

So, as you may have guessed, despite the fact I work for a bank and write about videogames I am a science geek at heart. I love science. I always have and always will. The discoveries, the knowledge, the whole kit and kaboodle (as Umbongo would say). Science is in my veins. However, I must buy in to a conspiracy theory today. I say buy in. I may have invented this one.

Today has been shit. It’s been really, really shit. And it’s the same day that the LHC was fired up. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I’ve had a really bobbins day. I couldn’t wait for it to end. It’s just been one piece of crap after another. But was I the only one? I have trawled the vast internet gathering data on this, and I present my findings here. I say trawled the internet – I’ve looked at Facebook and Twitter.

1) My day has been rubbish.
2) Simon’s hair has parted on the other side today.
3) Sarah Millican has performed her fifth show in Melbourne and the audience was fewer in number than previous nights.
4) A friend in Canada has complained of being cold and damp, and she’s out of firewood.
5) Lynne, A work colleague, has felt sick all day.
6) Several people wish this week was over already (me, Ruth, Richard)
7) Juliet Meyers has been disturbed a total of 9 times by political parties.
8 ) Prof Brian Cox (the face of Wonders of the Solar System) forgot to watch his own show tonight.
9) The Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 downloadable map-pack was all kinds of messed up making every CoD fanboy in the world cry tears like they’ve never cried before.
10) The weather has cut power to over 20,000 homes in Northern Ireland
11) *update* Ruth has no hot water and no heating and a mouse is trying to kill her.


Cock up?

So yesterday (or, more precisely, the early hours of this morning) I was on a bit of a rant about the portrayal of women in adverts. Where once a proud woman would stand, throw back her hair and embrace her periodic blood-letting whilst doing something mundane like skydiving or roller-blading behind some dogs, you’ve now been reduced to bloated, wind filled shells, unable to poo without it being a bit hard, sharp  or just not coming out at all.

Men, on the other hand, don’t seem to have any of these sorts of issue. There is, of course, that small boy who wants to have a poo at Paul’s house – but he’s too young to count. And, to be fair, anyone who takes a spiral bound notebook and a pen into the toilet with them on the off-chance they’ll need to push a note under the door proclaiming the fact that the air freshener has run out deserves to be ignored. When I was little we didn’t have the luxury of a wall-mounted air freshener. We had to tell people to “give it five minutes” or, in extreme circumstances, light a match.

We men-folk have adverts for hair dye that targets only the grey. In the case of the advert it’s the grey that has been put in the actor’s hair or beard to make them look grey in the first place while his daughter talks to him, slightly out of sync with her own lips, about how proud she is of her newly rejuvenated dad. It’s touching stuff. It moves me to my very core. That, apparently, is the extent of a man’s worry when it comes to adverts – until you get to the adverts a little later in the day.

Doing the rounds at the minute is an advert for erectile dysfunction. I say for erectile dysfunction, I would imagine it’s actually an advert promoting something that reduces the chance of your upstanding member taking a swan-dive when you least want it. They don’t phrase it like that, however. It doesn’t come on and, in a Barry Scott way, shout at you: “Limp dick? Then you need  Will it Bang!” then cut to a man’s particulars being dipped into liquid for 30 seconds to illustrate the difference. To all intents and purposes the advert gives you the impression that if you have erectile dysfunction, if your little friend has to go home early because he’s grounded, you’ll no longer be able to waltz around the kitchen with your partner.

Men, it seems, can’t operate an air-freshener though – with the obvious exception of the pooing Picasso in the aforementioned advert. Glade have released an air-freshener with motion activation which the adverts show men just not understanding. The motion sensor is on a delay, it won’t emit another puff of sent for 30 minutes when triggered. But our advert husband stands it front of it, waving body parts around with more enthusiasm than Heather Mills making up her mind which leg to wear that day and yet the air-freshener doesn’t work. You have to press the button. Silly man.

We just don’t understand the need for smells. What we do understand, however, is that it has a gadget in it, and that naturally draws us to it like a moth to a flame. And then the smug woman at the end of the advert always says “And it’s from Glade you know?” to her friends, again perpetuating the illusion that women gather in groups and discuss either their bowels or their air-fresheners.

Bring back the Shake-and-Vac woman, at least she had flare.

Whatever happened to rollerblading behind dogs?

Something I saw on Twitter set me off on a rant, which has now needed to be gathered together in blog form. Juliet Meyers, a comedienne I follow, happened to mention those bloody Ryvita adverts with those four stupid women. You know the one, where they’re trying to make Ryvitas a little bit Sex and the City, but still make sure that everyone knows that these woman are responsibly and loving wives and mothers who can, due to the amount of ryvita based products they eat, shit through the eye of a needle.

I hate those adverts. Adverts these days are different. When they’re not telling me that the animated feature (I can’t stress this word enough, animated feature) How To Train Your Dragon contains “mild peril” – this seriously winds me up. We didn’t used to get this kind of namby pamby mothering when I was younger. I don’t ever remember seeing Jaws anywhere with small print saying “when that body in the boat drops down at Richard Dreyfus you’ll soil yourself” and I survived. More or less. My pants didn’t, but I was ok after a quick hosing down. Having said that, I don’t remember “Up” carrying the warning that the film would tear out my heart and crush it leaving me, and everyone else in the cinema, a gibbering wreck because of one amazing montage and just when we think we’re ok with everything you’re blubbing again because of all the adventures they did have. Damn you Pixar.

Anyway, where was I?  Ah yes, adverts. When I was younger, adverts were different. We used to see blue water being absorbed by various sanitary pads. I always found it enlightening to know that I could empty quite a hefty beaker into an Always Ultra and it’d be dry to the touch. Women used to do amazing things like rollerblading behind dogs and not let the fact that they were grumpy as hell and their vaginas were gushing blood slow them down. Hell, I bet those dogs didn’t even belong to that woman.

Nowadays it’s different. Women are always complaining that their bloated. Martine McCutcheon (of all people) has to let us know that it’s ok to feel this way. It’s something that would once have been cleared with a discreet passing of wind when no-one was looking (or, if you were feeling particularly mischevious, when other people were around) but apparently women are no incapable of letting one go. They have to buy yoghurts with a high prune content and various friendly bacteria that stops you feeling bloated and windy. How does it do that? Where does the wind go? I suspect you just fart it out as you would have pre-yoghurt but that the added prune factor gives the whole affair a little bit more danger of follow-through.

While we’re in that area there are a couple of other adverts which need discussing. The woman and her handbag. You know the one. It basically says that if you’re constipated then you’re effectively carrying a handbag full of food around with you, and that each time you eat you’re basically adding to the handbag. But if you take one of these tablets then you can empty your handbag in the nearest bin and job’s a good ‘un. Waste of a handbag, though, isn’t it? And everyone knows that women’s handbags have got string and safety pins in them (just in case), so it’s not really an accurate representation of the intestinal tract.

The other one, however, is the one that disturbs me the most. It’s an advert that, in principal, is less believable than a talking meerkat running it’s own website. Imagine a group of friends – again, taken from the Sex and the City mould, although without one that resembles a horse – gather round a table for dinner. You’ve just sat down when one of the foursome pipes up that her stool is a little bit hard. My immediate thought here would be to suggest she finds another one, maybe one with more padding, and sits on that. But no, it’s not that sort of stool she’s discussing. She’s basically come to eat a lovely meal with her friends and her opening gambit is the fact that her poo’s just a little bit sharp when it’s leaving the station. I’ve asked around – I have not yet found a single woman who feels the need to share the softness of their poo with their friends, let alone ask if anyone happens to have anything that can soften said stool. Obviously, as we’re in the advertising world, one of her friends happens to carry a pristine box of stool-softener in her handbag which, one can only assume given the nature of the product, was filled with food just a few hours before.

Watching the Detectives

So, I’ve neglected this blog a little bit over the past few months. Once the excitement of the snow event passed, there was nothing for me to write about. Nothing I needed to get off my chest. I’m sure vaguely amusing things have happened to me but I haven’t been bothered to write them down. I am a bad man.

So, we’re back in business. I’m writing a blog now, and I’m undergoing serious work in finding my old blogs and bringing them all to one site in archive form, so that I have a portfolio of sorts that I can show off to people if they say “oh, you write? What do you write?” and I can go “ta-daaaa” with a flourish and give them a link to this collection of nonsense. Possibly not this last paragraph though.

Anyway, it’s all sad news these days. The Bill is pulling the plug after something like 27 years as ITV’s flagship show that features police officers in the Sun Hill area of London. To be fair, the signs that The Bill would be going have been there for some time. When I was younger -watching The Bill after doing my homework or, more realistically, to kill the time it took a Spectrum game to load – I seem to remember it being on quite a lot of the time. Then, as time wore on, it moved to be on less times during the week. This was accompanied by an increase in the severity of the crimes being commited – ITV will claim it was to add more excitement to the show, but we all know it’s because the cut-backs meant that the streets of Sun Hill were being walked on fewer times a week. Towards the end, I believe, it was only on once a week or so and there were crimes aplenty. Proof, if proof were needed (or asked for) that this decline in policing was leading to a crime wave. One can only imagine the levels of depravity the occupants of Sun Hill will get up to now, knowing that the station will soon be closing its doors for the final time. I, for one, will not be looking forward to visiting that area of fictitious London anytime soon, let me tell you.

Most Haunted’s in Prague this week. Well, they say they’re in Prague – Paul Ross in some kind of smoking jacket appears to be in a quite well maintained castle somewhere. Having watched the Live Series over the past however many Saturday nights I can safely say that Most Haunted doesn’t need Paul Ross, or that bloke that looks like Shrek and reads out the emails. For me, all Most Haunted needs is Lesley. She’s amazing. The show from Prague was excellent in that she was sitting behind a desk looking every inch like Miss Piggy from the muppets – from her fauz-fur coat to her curly blonde locks and pouty face the resemblance was uncanny.

There were other moments of joviality. A ghost is reported to move the beds in one of the rooms. To challenge the spirit, Yvette asked Kath to lie on the bed. I know that a ghost did sucessfully dislodge Kath from her feet the other week but the prospect of lifting the bed with her on was a step too far. And, to top it all off, during this “investigation” we saw, first-hand, the kind of investigative tools at hand on a vigil like this. To measure whether the bed was vibrating in any way, Dr Ciaran O’Keefe, parapsychologist to the show, used his iPhone and some sort of seismic app. His bloody iPhone. It’s hardly the most scientific method I’ve ever seen. What next? Let’s start measuring things by holding our hands apart., shall we.

The other thing that struck me, considering the investigations are in Prague is the fact that the spirits seem to understand Yvette as she questions them in English. And they’re so quick to respond with the pre-arranged twice for yes, once for no knocking system that was last employed by someone trying to teach a horse to count. It’s funny because I’ve watched other shows like Ghosthunters and the phenomena never happens, without fail, each and every time they enter a room. Sometimes stuff happens but they have nothing like the hit rate that Most Haunted has. Having said that, they also seem to have proper equipment and very rarely use an iPhone to measure ghostly goings on so they’re clearly just amateurs. The Most Haunted hit rate has been a cause of concern for a few weeks. Always tapping. Always responding to questions. Maybe it’s because Yvette is so polite – “did you die here, sir?”, “are you trying to harm me, sir?” or maybe it’s because someone’s off to the side tapping like a crazy person on a piece of wood.

The investigation in Prague revolved around a man who was trying to turn base metal into gold. The ouija board, the spiritual equivalent of Twitter  spelt out Ze67, or some such load of old cock, and a viewer took the time to text in and suggest that maybe this was the formula for gold. The formula for gold. Even Shrek himself was a little taken aback by this, saying that it wasn’t like the formula for gold he remembered from school.

That’s probably because there is no formula for gold. It’s a bloody element you heathens.