The Monday Small Shop and other stories

I had to get up at stupid o’clock this morning so that I could go to the dentist. It’s been a while since I consciously knew that 6am existed but, this morning, there it was grinning at me and slapping me around the face. This was helped by the fact that my body, knowing I needed to be up at six so I could be ready sorted and out of the house for half seven (and not get in Carole’s way) decided that it would wake me up at five, let me believe that I could fall back to sleep and then allow me the pleasure of lying there vaguely aware that I wasn’t asleep. Until 5.58 am, when I thought it must be about half past and I had plenty of lying time left. And then the alarm went off.

As you always do when you have a dentist appointment, I made a special extra effort with the teeth brushing. It’s as though you get it in your head that one massive brushing session can brush away any slapdash attempts you may have made in the past six months. Any times you haven’t brushed for long or for very well are erased this very day because you brushed for longer or twice or did something you don’t normally do. I brushed for ages. When the dentist examined me he, quite sarcastically, said “It looks like you’ve inflammed your gums a litte from too much brushing today, but if you brush like that for the next week or so they’ll be absolutely fine.” He then cleaned and polished my teeth and said “there’s one or two bleeding areas but that’s nothing to worry about” and encouraged me to rinse and spit. Seriously. I’d have seen less blood if I’d hacked my own leg off. But it’s nothing to worry about. And I didn’t even get a cup of tea and a biscuit.

While I was waiting to be seen the TV in the waiting room was showing GMTV. They were proudly announcing that, this very morning, they would be interviewing Elmo from Sesame Steet. Seriously. There was a picture of him and everything. I didn’t dream it. An interview with Elmo – maybe getting his reactions to the World Cup, asking if he’d like to be the next England manager or, maybe, why he likes to be tickled so much. Elmo was a guest on GMTV. Watching it this morning, as I filled out my medical questionaire (pregnant? morning sickness? etc) I realised that with cutting edge guests like that it’s quite understandable how Christine Bleakley couldn’t resist the offer they made. I hope they interview Big Bird one week. Or maybe that pinball table from the 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 song. You know the one. Yeah, you’re singing it now.

This evening, while Carole swung by her parental abode to say hi to her visiting brother I was deposited on the doorstep of the store with a short list and told, in no uncertain terms, to take my time.

Having spent a little time in the DVD and games aisle I decided to crack on with my shopping and picked up some milk. Now, apparently, I’m incapable of choosing suitable milk as, a little later on while I was trying to take a sneaky photo of some humourously named product or other an older Asian woman approached me, said something and pointed. As I was, at this juncture, effectively blocking all access to the tomato ketchup and because the woman was also on the phone at the time I assumed she was angling to get some tomatoey goodness in a squeezy bottle. So I moved. She pointed at my trolley and said something again. I looked at her with my best “huh?” face on and she pointed again and said “your milk is leaking”. She wasn’t wrong. Where I had been standing it looked like I’d been slowly lactating onto the supermarket floor. Staying calm and collected and sticking to the wise words of that famous saying, I thanked her for her concern as to my dairy well-being and, with no tears, and I swiftly swapped the faulty milk, giving the replacement bottle a hearty squeeze to check that it was a sealed unit and continued on my shoppingy way.

And then I remembered that I was trying to take a photo when I was interupted by leakage and so I headed back to the scene of the crime, handily marked out by the small milk puddle. I’ve now adopted this approach when we go to the supermarket. Things amuse me and I feel that i need to take a picture. There was cock flavoured soup, and there was gorilla munch breakfast cereal on sale in Tescos once. Today, in my first picture, I spotted some Bullox. It tickled me, if nothing else.

Towards the end of the shop I spied this, and figured that I shouldn’t really shop on my own as this sounded for all the world like some kind of sex cheese. It’s like porno for mice.


As I made my way towards the checkout I overheard the tail end of a team leader briefing explaining the concepts of red and yellow cards for staff. I find that nothing motivates people more than some kind of themed disciplinary system based on current events. Should members of staff get a yellow card and then a red card they have to explain why they consider themselves to be more important that the customers. I often find that a busy supermarket floor is the best, and most professional place to have discussions like this. Yellow card, I think.

And then the checkout. Where I was served by Father Time. Having ignored the advice of the woman enthusiastically waving the “Space Hear” pointing finger sign thing I headed for a till that looked empty. This was a mistake, and one which I really struggled to deal with. When people say “I was biting my lip” I know how they feel. I was holding back sustained hysterics for quite some time. Quite some time. When my turn to be served came, I was asked if I wanted bags. I did want bags. I’m sorry. I’m a bad bad man. We have bags for life. They will spend a life in our cupboards as we tend to forget we have bags for life. I just opted for bags for now. I then had to watch a man fight with the plastic bags to try and seperate some from the massive stack hanging on a hook behind his chair. He was pulling and puffing and panting. It was a lot like the wolf trying to blow down the little pig’s brick house, except this was a man in a supermarket uniform and the house was, in fact, bags.

Eventually the bags parted company with the others and he, rather exhaustedly, asked if I could manage to open them myself. I told him not to worry as I was sure I would cope and set to opening a few bags ready for my goods to fly down the ramp. Usually supermarket checkout staff have a habit of being a bit bloody fast. Stuff comes flying at you from every direction and it’s quite tricky to keep up with them and pack your bags. This wasn’t the case tonight. It was agonisingly slow. Until the end. He spend up on the bottles of things, possibly aided by gravity, probably because he would be free after me to just sit and regain the strength he used trying to get the bags off in the first place.


Don’t mention the score…

Over the past few days, due to the World Cup (we’re out of it, by the way, in case you’ve been asleep or something), we’ve been watching Create and Craft – the shopping channel filled with cards and crafting things demonstrated by large women with sausage fingers. Ordinarily we sit and mock this channel like there’s no tomorrow but just once we saw something that was quite nifty. I won’t bore you with the details but it’s basically a scoring board for cards that reduces the need to do measuring and maths and all that fiddly stuff.

So today, shortly before kick off of that match, we headed out to Leeds so Carole could have a look at the craft shop over there. We were the only people in there. It was fantastic. Apparently it’s only been open on Sundays for a couple of weeks – it would probably be better if someone actually told any of the customers about this. A whole shop to yourself is just an insane concept.

While there we spotted the board we’d seen on Create and Craft and I decided to buy it for Carole. So I did. I went to the till to pay for it and was greeted by a very nice cashier who asked me if I did much crafting. Now, I have made my own cards before and I have made odds and sods of things in the past but I don’t do crafting. I know my decoupage from my teabag folding (I don’t really – I have no idea what the hell teabag folding is, to be honest) but other than that my only use in the craft world is to advise on layouts, designs and the lettering on a scrapbook page of Copenhagen. I think it’s awful. Apparently it’s not.

On the way to the craft shop we went past a house, just outside Leeds, which was adorned with England flags. Literally every spare inch of space had a flag in it. It’s the kind of flag-bedecked house that kind of makes you wish that, instead of the warm weather, it was insanely windy… just so you could see what happen. In the garden, however, standing proudly infront of the house was an inflatable footballer, dressed in the England kit. I have not seen anyone else with one of these and, following today’s match, I can only assume that I will never see one again as I’d like to think that the owner of the house dashed out, as the final whistle blew, and ran it through with a barbeque fork.

So that’s it. The World Cup dream is over. The writers at the Sun are thinking up witty headlines to best put across out misery and one of them is crying as he tears up his “Huns on the Run” headline and mocked up photo of what Robbie Coltrane and Eric Idle would have looked like if they were England players – you know they would have done that. I didn’t see much of the football, I was playing Lego Harry Potter at the time, if I’m honest, but I did flick onto BBC 1 every now and again for an update on the score. 2-0, 2-1 and uh-oh 4-1. At one point I flicked over and the commentator made a comment about Heskey and then said “…need more wide players.” My ears did a double-take at this point, if I’m honest. My brain went “woah”, and then kind of replayed the moment in my mind and I settled on “wide”, although even now it’s still now 100% sure that that’s what it said.

So now it’s left to Wimbledon to keep us entertained where Andy Murray will be British until he loses.

Mumble Lines

There used to be a line in the theme to Friends that I didn’t know. No matter how many times I heard the song it just never went in. To me, the line which goes “and your love life’s DOA” sounded something “mmms shssm hssjsjs hshshs A”. This is one of the great lyrical masterpieces – a mumble line.  When you’re singing along with a mumble line there’s a few things you can do.

  1. Mumble
  2. Sing along anyway as best you can. Singing louder as it gets to bits you know
  3. Make up the words

Of the three options, the third is by far the most fun. When I was at Uni, all those years ago there was a song by Gala called Free From Desire. It was on MTV and whatever video jukebox station used to hang around on cable back then – The Box or something, I don’t really remember what it was called.  I used to ring it at stupid o’clock in the morning and make them play B*Witched. And then have to watch for ages until they came on, resisting the temptation to switch to QVC and see what was on offer on there because I’d then miss the very video I had requested.

I had a love affair with QVC when I was at Uni. I used to do a lot of my work late and night and into the early hours and the least distracting show to put on in the background was QVC. Quality, Value and Crap. I say least distracting. Depending what was on sale that hour you were either mesmerised or fed up to the back teeth of women who weren’t exactly oil paintings discussing beauty. And at Christmas you got to see the light up villages and other assorted Christmas crap. You wondered who bought things like that as you found youself reaching for the phone and dialling. And Sarah Greene’s dadm Harry, used to do the DIY show on a Sunday morning – that was rubbish as well. I was just telling you in case it ever came up in a quiz. 

Anyway. Free from Desire. Throughout the majority of the final year of Uni and, in fact to this day, I’m convinced that the words used to go “My lover’s got no money, he’s bought a trampoline” She’d then sing that he got it free from desire. So clearly her boyfriend had money and was lying as he hadn’t bought the trampoline at all. She could never see that though. Presumably she just liked the bouncing.

There are more, even now.  One Republic’s Stop and Stare. You know the one. I don’t know the line immediately after “stop and stare”. I have my own lines. You can run with “stop and stare… I’m eating biscuits in my underwear” or, my new favourite which came to life this morning when it was on the radio – “stop and stare, I’m sitting backwards in an antique chair.”

Then there’s The Hoosiers’  Goodbye Mr A. Goodbye Mr A? At least in my head it made sense – it was Goodbye Mister Ed and was a touching song about a man’s struggle to say goodbye to the talking horse which has seen him through so much of his life.

The thing about the mumble line is that, more often than not, what you think they’re singing is so far beyond the mediocrity of the actual words that when you find out what you should be singing a little part of you dies. When I found out that the line of the Friends theme I didn’t get was “your love life’s DOA” I felt cheated. I felt that my fun with that song had been ruined by the actual lyrics – which is why I’ve gone to great odds not to find out any of the other lyrics that I don’t know because if I did that I think that would be the day the music died.

And where’s the fun in that?

Today is gonna be the day that I blog about when I get in

It’s a little bit warm today. When I left the house this morning it was warm, but nowhere near as warm as it is now. I got to the bus stop just in time to see that the bus I should have been on had, of course, arrived early and sodded off without me (I must have only missed it by a minute as well – even more infuriating) – I can tell all this because there’s a girl who gets off the bus that I would get on and she was walking down from the bus stop. She has a habit of getting off at the last possible moment so, judging from her position relative to the bus stop I could have, with almost pinpoint accuracy, given you the exact arrival time of the bus. I didn’t do any of that because, at the simplest level, the arrival time of the bus was earlier than the arrival time of the intended passenger thus annoying said passenger.

As I stood in the bus shelter, checking the world of Twitter and Facebook, I was joined by an old man who, quite frequently, catches the bus into town. He’s old, he’s wobbly, he needs to sit down on the little uncomfortable looking metal seat that all good bus shelters have. You know the one – it’s like a set of parallel bars that just screams “Your arse will hate you for this!” when you look at it. He sits on that. And then when the bus comes he goes through a little bit of ritual.

1) He says the bus is here. He always does this. If the bus doesn’t come he’ll ask where the bus is. If it still doesn’t come he’s a lot less polite about the bus.

2) He’ll get on the bus. He’ll say “Morning young man,” to the driver. Regardless of the driver’s age or gender. He’ll then move to the seat immediately behind the driver’s cab and proceed to block the aisle while he fannys about with his bag. This is fine if you manage to get on before him. If you’re a gentleman and let him on first you immediately regret it and have to resist the temptation to push him over.

3) Once settled he’ll get up again for a Metro. If there are no Metros available he’ll say “no papers” and sit back down. In a lot of ways he’s like an announcer for things that don’t need announcing.

During the winter months he would leave the house wearing the brightest luminous jacket I have ever seen. It often, if I’m honest, made me think that he knew something that I didn’t and that, weather-wise, Huddersfield town centre was, in fact, a lot worse than I assumed it to be. It never proved to be the case but there was always a part of me thinking “what if he’s right? What if I need a high vis jacket or I will die on Market Street?”

This morning, however, he turned up for the bus dressed like an Action Man ready for manoeuvers in the desert. he was wearing khaki with a white top and he had one of those hats that’s got a cloth flap down your neck to stop your neck from burning in the intense, relentless heat of the half past eight sun. It was truely a thing of wonderment and hands down beats the time he came out in a blue and grey camo fleece.

Lunchtime came and I took myself off to Subway. It’s two doors away from work and it was too hot to go anywhere else. I like Subway. I’ve always liked it. The people who own and work in subway smell of their bread as well, which is a little weird but also strangely comforting. I know this because I have seen, known and talked to people from Subway outside of work and noted the smell not because I randomly sniff Subway employees. Anyway, the thing I like about Subway is that everything is freshly made in front of you  so you get the sandwich you like. I did, however, while waiting think they should come up with a new slogan for their stuff. The current one is “Subway… Think Fresh”. They should really go with “Subway… it’s like a sandwich you’ve made yourself only not as neat”. I know that assembling a sandwich several hundred times a day must grate just a little but you do get the impression that sometimes they’ll throw things towards your bread and whatever sticks is what you’re having.

This evening, as it was warm, I found myself in the position of carrying my jacket home. Calling in at Sainsburys for some stuff for tea (I’m having a panini with chorizo, tomato and cheese since you ask) I went to the self checkout. Holding your coat while going through the self-checkout is quite tricky so I dumped it just behind my shopping. Which was fine. Absolutely fine and dandy. Until it slipped a little and managed to sabotage the shopping of the person next to me.  His till kept announcing that there was an unexpected item in the bagging area. He checked his bag. Nothing was unexpected. Everything he’d scanned was in his bag. There was nothing else it could be.

Well, except the sleeve of my jacket which had snuck out and was resting casually on the bars the carrier bags hang from. Just casually enough to prevent his shopping from proceeding. We then had one of those awkward moments where I made a joke about sabotaging his shopping which he didn’t really hear but laughed at and then he felt the need to reciprocate with something that I didn’t hear properly but said “yeah” to, and laughed a little.

Mother Bother

You know that every now and again you’ll have days that just don’t turn out as you’d hoped they would when you first woke up. Sunday was a little bit like that. I say a little bit. Sunday was completely like that.

Saturday had been ok, though. We’d gone into the sprawling metropolis of Brighouse for cheap videogames, a coffee and a general browse. Brighouse, for those who haven’t been, is probably best described as quaint. There’s a Boots and a Wilkinsons and a shop that used to be Woolworths. There’s also, and this is new, a Super Pound Shop. Not just a pound shop. This one’s super. From browsing the wares – mops, brushes, trays to stand your wellies on, that kind of thing – it would appear it’s super because everything costs more than a pound. What’s the point of having a pound shop and then charging more. That’s just a shop. Pound shops are called pound shops because things cost a pound. If every shop was named after the cost of stuff then things would get complicated. You should at least know where you are with a pound shop. And, best of all, I got “The Pyschic Adventures of Derek Acorah” for £2 in the BHF shop. Now I can read a badly written paperback account of his many thrilling encounters.

The problems with Sunday started in the morning, as most days do, with a scheduled trip to the vet. It was time to give Pumpkin her booster jabs and all sorts of other medical poking that she would suffer. Unfortunately throughout Saturday we kept mentioned the vet once or twice. I think I spelt it, but Carole definately looked Pumps in the face and told her, in no uncertain terms, that if she was lucky she might even get a thermometer stuck up her bottom. While it seemed funny at the time, Pumpkin managed to have the last laugh by, basically, not turning up for her appointment. She was booked in at 11.40. She came home at about 4 in the afternoon, the crafty minx. Carole had to ring up and cancel the appointment, meaning that we have to go through the whole process again another week. Maybe next time, however, we won’t tip her off…

Sunday was also Father’s Day. A day celebrating fatheriness. A day when sons up and down the country give their dad a card that they’ve spent ages picking to get one that is well into the macho side of “I love my daddy” and spend ages wondering if they should put “love” when they write it, and also whether you include your partner or not. Or maybe that’s just me. So, we go to my parent’s house and present my father with his father’s day card (suitably macho, it had a joke about sat nav on it. Hilarious) and hand over a present which is actually for his birthday which was in April but we’d only picked up when we went camping. All was going swimmingly until my mum pulled me up on one thing.

I’d forgotten her birthday.

My mum’s birthday is quite easy to remember. It’s around Father’s Day. Now I come to think of it, she’s right. It’s always round Father’s Day. It’s the 18th of June. You don’t need to know that but I’m writing it down here, in this blog, so that it’s recorded in another place. Honestly, I have never felt a feeling like it. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. It didn’t. It was far, far worse than the Buy Your Own Easter Egg debacle of earlier this year. It was awful. We’d properly upset my mum by, well, completely forgetting her birthday. There’s not a lot you can do in a situation like this, but I tried my best.

“Carole’s got a tenner, if you want that….”

She didn’t even want that. She was a trooper. We actually left with more stuff than we went with. We scored a couple of home grown lettuce and a few plants for the garden. Even though we had forgotten her birthday she was still giving us things. Honestly, even as I write this there are a couple of thoughts running through my head.

1) I feel awful for forgetting. I don’t think words can express how bad I actually feel. And how bad I feel as Carole slowly tells everyone she knows that I forgot so they all look at me and judge me.

2) I can’t believe she didn’t go for the tenner. Even as an interim present, that was a tenner. It would have fed the addiction to sudoku puzzles for a short while if nothing else.

It’s almost like I don’t know my own mother….