2.091 A Dark Day

When I first moved in with Carole she took an instant dislike to my jogging bottoms. She would look at them with disgust each and every time I wore them. It was if she just wanted to take them off me and throw them away so that I would be none the wiser and have bare, cold legs for the rest of all time.

In fact, that’s what she tried to do. She often threatened to throw them away when I wasn’t looking or when I wasn’t in. That way I wouldn’t know they were gone and by the time I found out it would be too late. And I would have bare, cold legs for the rest of all time.

In the end, I bowed to the constant barrage of pressure and tutting that I was being met with on a regular basis and threw them away. All of them. They went in the bin never to be seen again. Cold, bare legs for all time be damned I thought, this will show that I love her and she will be more understanding when it comes to other things she’s taken an instant dislike to.

And all has been well in the house for the past few years (apart from the fact that my legs have been quite cold on occasion).

Until today.

Today more of my clothing met a sad end.

Carole made me throw away what I will refer to as my “weekend pants” – the underwear I would wear at a weekend, or on a day off work, when I am statistically less likely to be hit by a bus and, as everyone knows, be judged by the emergency services based on the state of my pants.

Basically these pants were really, really comfy. They were lovely. Putting them on was like spending time with an old friend – albeit an old friend who cupped your genitals for most of the day. They were soft and beautiful. Yes there were a few holes in them, and the material around the waistband was wearing out a little, so that you could see the odd patch of elastic. But they were my weekend pants. They were my comfort blanket at the end of a week of work. They were my friends.

Ok, I’m lying. You couldn’t see the odd patch of elastic. You could see the odd patch of underwear still holding the elastic to the pants. They were really worn out, but you never know when I’d find myself in a situation – at a weekend – stranded somewhere (e.g. Ikea) when I’d need to fashion a rudimentary catapult from a Y-shaped piece of wood and my underwear elastic in order to hunt for food. These pants, you see, would have been ideal. The elastic was practically begging to be freed, while still carrying out its main duty of holding my undies up.

But all that is gone. Destroyed by Carole in what she sees as a test but I see as extreme vandalism.

My weekend pants were asked to perform one last duty. If they were meant to be worn, Carole explained, then they would survive what amounted to a tug of war between the two of us in the front room. For Carole it was probably over in a flash. For me, it was like the end of a movie, when everything goes into slow motion and the hero takes a jump shot – hoping to get the ball in the basket and save the day. Everything slowed down. I could see everything that was happening unfold in slow motion. I could see every fibre of the pants straining as they were stretched taut between Carole and myself.

I could see the fibres rip. I could hear the distinctive sound of all the threads giving up. They couldn’t take the strain. They weren’t used to that kind of pressure. They failed me. And I failed them.

And now they’ve gone.

I no longer have weekend pants.



2.090 Pasty Parcel

Simple Simon met a pie man going to the fair, said Simple Simon to the pie man, “What do you mean you’re charging me VAT on this?”

Yup, one of the things that’s come out of the most recent budget (and is receiving more coverage than the break-up of the NHS) is that VAT is being added to pies and pasties.

There’s a bit if an outcry, as I’m sure you can imagine, and people are not happy. Parents of pushchair-bound children are said to be distraught that it will now cost more to give their child a sausage roll to eat as they’re being wheeled around. The very future of driving meat – meat products that can be eaten while driving e.g. sausage rolls, pasties etc – is in danger.

David Cameron, showing he’s a man of the people, claims to have recently bought a pasty in Leeds train station, although all the evidence points to the fact that he actually hasn’t done this at all. What he’s done is tried to look like an ordinary man on the street by saying he’s had a pastry-based snack and had one of his people randomly pick a place-name. Ed Milliband, a man who would not look out-of-place on The Apprentice, has been out to buy sausage rolls. He spent £4.70. That’s dedication, that is.

According to the news, though, the VAT is on hot pastry goods. Hot. So, if I went to Gregg’s and – as you’re more than able to do – asked the pleasant, smiley and helpful member of staff if the pasties I wanted were warm, is my VAT payment in the hands of one of the serving oiks? If I get a hot roll I’d expect to pay my VAT, after all it’s on “hot pasties and pies” but if it was tepid, or even cold, then I’d begrudge handing over an extra 20% because my pasty doesn’t fit the criteria. But we don’t get to fondle the baked goods until we’ve paid for them, so our payment total would be determined by someone who can’t even manage to smile.

And surely it’s wrong to be charged the VAT on a baked good that was hot at one point in its existence but is no longer warm. I, personally, prefer the cold pasties anyway. I find that it’s a much more pleasant experience to enjoy a cheese and onion pasty without the fear that at any moment the filling is going to burn its way through the roof of your mouth and start to melt your sinuses. Or that the juice from a bean and cheese bake is going to drip out and dramatically scald your nipple.

I assume that, in the back of their minds, the VAT on baked stuff is to try to dissuade people from eating them and then they won’t get fat. A pasty, instead of being a convenient snack, will become a luxury item that people will scrimp and save for. People will tell stories of how we used to be able to get baked goods on the high street, in a paper bag proclaiming the brilliance of the meat in a steak bake, which were impossible to eat without becoming covered in pastry.

When fuel prices go up, people panic buy petrol in the fear of strikes.

When the price of pasties goes up, should I be out there panic buying sausage rolls? Cramming them into any available vessel I can find? Should I?

Should I?



2.089 The 500th

This is my 500th blog post, apparently.

Every time I post a blog there’s a little slider thing that’s setting goals for me. It’s urging me to get to the next benchmark that’s been set. Which just seems to be once every five blogs. But this one is number 500. It’s the 454th in a row, so there must be another 46 before it, just bobbling about and rambling on about things like being told off for telling Carole to buy her own Easter Egg, Psychic Sally’s quest to lose some weight, the Icelandic volcano, rented bikes, snow and the time that Derek Accorah got pins and needles but was convinced it was a spirit trying to paralyse him.

I should have paid more attention to the numbers as the milestone approached. I should have planned ahead and thought to myself, “For that 500th blog I should so something special.” I should have sat down and written a list of 500 things about me. That would have been a good way to mark the passing. And it shows dedication to the cause. I’ll give it a try, though, and see how I get on. There won’t be 500 things though.

1) I have a fear of fruit with fur. Or any fruit related to that fruit that has fur. As a rule I am on high alert for things like peaches, nectarines, kiwis – all that kind of thing.
2) When I was younger I was afraid of the texture of grass. My parents – or my sister for that matter – will delight in telling anyone who’ll listen that I used to be placed on a blanket in the middle of the lawn and could be left, quite safely, for a very long time because I didn’t want to touch the grass.
3) A creepy-crawly of some kind once came out of a freshly picked raspberry I was about to eat when I was at my Grandma’s. I have had a fear of raspberries since.
4) Apparently, when we were younger, I told my sister that if she slept with her bedroom window open she would be snatched away in the night by owls.
5) I was once partially eaten by a goose in St James Park. By partially eaten, I mean that I was bitten on the little finger. Once. But it’s something that has stayed with me for life. Even now, an approaching goose makes me nervous.
6) I never really realised that I was as damaged as I am until I started to make a list of 500 facts about me.
7) I’ve covered this in a blog a while ago, but I once pooed in my friend’s paddling pool. I was very young. This doesn’t make it right, but it does at least make it a bit more socially acceptable – or as socially acceptable as pooing in someone’s paddling pool can be.
8) I’m running out of things to put in a list that I won’t need for a future blog
9) This blog entry has exactly 500 words. That seems quite fitting.

2.088 Stamping Up

Aside from the odd birthday card and an occasional script sent off the to Beeb, I can’t really think of the last time I actually had the need to buy a stamp. Most people, places and things that I would need to get in contact with are on the internet in some way. Practically everything has a Facebook page or a Twitter feed. People I would write to can be contacted by email. I can text people. If I want to complain about something I can hop onto a website and fill in a contact form with my specific problem which will probably be dealt with within 24 hours or a similar timescale promised to me by the automated response of the inbox I have just emailed.

And, come to think of it, I can send actual birthday cards – the one thing I may need to buy a stamp for – via the internet anyway. With sites like Moonpig and Funky Pigeon fighting for my attention. I can even personalise the cards so that, judging from the adverts at least, my intended recipient will roll around with laughter. Unless it’s a sympathy card, and then that’s just inappropriate.

There’s a Funky Pigeon shop in Leeds train station. Part of the appeal of Funky Pigeon is that it’s online and that you can customise the cards as you see fit. The pigeon that rides a moped and talks with the voice of that bloke off of Two Pints of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps told me, so it must be true. But when you take away the internet from that equation, all you’ve got is a shop that sells cards that have to stay being the cards they already are because they’ve already been printed and the only personalising you can do is writing the person’s name inside the card and on the envelope. And when it’s opposite a Paperchase you kind of have to wonder why they even bother.

The cost of stamps is going up. I don’t even know how much a stamp is now, let alone how much it’s going to be. I just hand over my letters to the tattooed man in the Post Office and watch him drop it through some slots until he seems happy with it and asks me for some money. I don’t know if what he’s asking for is correct or if he’s just plucking a number out of thin air. I know that, on occasion I’ve wanted to make a sucky noise with my teeth but have just gone “Okay”. But other than that I have no idea how much a stamp is. Or how much the increase is going to be.

I just know that I should be outraged about this because it’s terrible.

Maybe I’ll write a letter to complain.

2.087 Evil Genius

It’s quite nice at the moment, weatherwise.

It’s warm and sunny and pleasant. Tomorrow I’m going to try and single-handedly alter the weather. I reckon it’s quite simple, really.

I’m just going to wash some curtains.

I don’t think there’s anything more likely to cause a sudden meteorological change that the act of one man finding himself in possession of two large pieces of cloth that simply must be dry the same day. No simple clothes airer can handle them and there’s nowhere in the house they could go (other than where they’re hung now) so it goes without saying that somewhere around mid-morning we’ll be looking at some sort of monsoon. Centred on me.

It’s the stuff that super villains of comic, film and book have dreamt of. Harnessing control of the weather would allow control of the world – you could change the fortunes of a country as easily as flicking a switch from sun to rain. No-one’s ever managed it, though – people have tried seeding clouds to make it rain with ambiguous results, but what I’m aiming for is full control of the elements. Just by washing some curtains.

If I’m successful I won’t use my powers for evil, though. I’ll turn them to good. I’ll use my newly found prowess to change the course of human civilisation. I’ll even end the droughts. I figure all I’ll need to do is wash some curtains in Ethiopia.

And if it doesn’t look like my experiment is bearing fruit I think I’ll sit outside with my laptop and do some writing. Or sit outside with my laptop and squint at the screen, unable to see anything that’s on it unless I sit in one particular place and block the sun somehow, and then only move with the path of the sun. So what’ll probably happen is that I end up sitting outside with my book.

Either way, that’s bound to do it…