Volume 3 – Chapter 90: Slow News Day

March 31, 2013

I have a bit of a m0rning ritual.

As a rule I wake up, mutter about having woken up and then check four things:

– The Kindle Deal Of The Day
– Facebook
– Twitter
– Sky News

The main reason I do this is to check that I haven’t missed anything going on in the world while I’m asleep and to bag a cheap book or, quite often, lie there and wonder who would actually pay money to read a particular book on offer. Especially if it’s one of those books with only one word in the title, like Broken, Fragile, Damaged, Bruised, Battered, Left, Abandoned, Miserable, Sad or Hopeless. Proper laugh-a-minute books.

But anyway, primarily I’m looking to see if anyone has died.

I know that sounds morbid. But I don’t want to be one of those people who overhears someone talking about someone who has died but I don’t know who they’re talking about and have to Google things to find out. This probably stems from the fact that when I was at school, someone who I had known – and had a massive crush on – died and my parents saw it on the news and didn’t tell me and I overheard two people talking about it in the morning at school but didn’t know who they were talking about, and then it was announced in assembly and the bottom dropped out of my world a little bit.

But anyway, I digress.

Tomorrow morning, of course, it’s April 1st. April Fool’s Day. On a Bank Holiday Monday. So all those work prankers who come up with something hilarious every year are at home, not working, with no-one to appreciate their japes. But that doesn’t stop the news media who will, without fail, slip something in that’s just so ridiculous. Like when Panorama did that thing about spaghetti trees.

So imagine my surprise this morning when I woke up and – for a brief while – thought I had actually slept through Easter.

Because Sky News told me that Freddie Mercury once took Princess Diana to a gay bar dressed as a man.


It was a proper “I’m sorry, what?” story as I was reading it. But it’s in Cleo Rocos’ book and mentions three people – Freddie Mercury, Princess Di and Kenny Everett – who are dead and therefore can’t dispute her claims so that means a) it must be true and b) apparently it’s news now.

The book is being serialised in The Times and this is today’s bit. So something that happened over twenty years ago is being pedaled as breaking news at something past seven in the morning. Where’s the story about North Korea having a pissing contest with South Korea? Oh that’s way down the list under this story and something else about how it’s been snowy for a while.

I can only imagine that the Daily Express is outraged by this revelation.


Volume 3 – Chapter 89: Clocking Off

March 30, 2013

It’s a momentous day.

And not just because it’s Easter and that means that Doctor Who is back. Although that is a really big thing and I still love it and all is right with the world. And I like Clara. Which is good.

But anyway, it’s something more important than that. Far more important.

After five years of campaigning and getting together a petition signed by me and the cats, I have finally – finally – persuaded Carole that maybe we don’t actually need the clock in the bedroom to be set half-an-hour later than it actually is. Maybe we all know that it’s half an hour fast and  just take that time off and act accordingly. Maybe it’s redundant. I know the logic behind it. I know it’s to make you think you’re late when you’re not, but you’re more likely to be late because you’re working out what time it really is than because of any reason the clock settings might counteract.

At my parents house there’s a clock in the bathroom that’s set ten minutes fast to make sure no-one is late for work. I don’t live there anymore and my dad no longer works, so that’s redundant as well, but they seem reluctant to change the settings. My dad says it’s because they automatically take off the ten minutes and changing it now would bring down chaos on the household, which is risk that we are running today as the half-an-hour head start that the clock has on the real world is wiped.

I fully expect there to be mutterings. It’s bad enough that I’ll have to spend most of tomorrow with the “so what time is it really?” discussions, but the fact that, potentially, we’ll be thirty minutes late for everything will add a further layer to the complex relationship with time that we have in this house.

The thing is, it’s only the alarm clock that’s set fast. I can’t even see the digits on it when I don’t have my glasses on, so I check my phone to find out what time it is – and that’s set to the correct time by magic or whatever. And Carole can’t even see the alarm clock from her side of the bed because, more often than not, the door is open and obscuring the view so she probably checks the time on her phone. Or asks me, and I just tell her the real time.

Which, all in all, makes having the clock set half-an-hour early a little bit pointless.

I know it’s all going to go hideously wrong.

Volume 3 – Chapter 88: Bookish Love

March 29, 2013

Finally it’s finished.

Apart from the doors, but they don’t count.

It’s finished.

And so, as the last bit of paint in the front room dried, we started the long and arduous task of moving all our books back into the front room. We’ve ruthlessly sacrificed some to charity shops but we still have a whole heap of books left. Most of which have been homed and some which still seem to be floating around with no fixed abode.

But during the course of it all, in and amongst the – again – spending time flicking through books instead of putting them away, I started to become convinced that someone had broken into our house and deposited more books on our shelves. Especially as the question “Is this yours or mine?” was asked with quite startling frequency as books neither of us could ever remember buying appeared in our piles.

“The Groucho Marx letters? Where did this one come from?”
“That’s yours isn’t it?”
“I’ve never seen it before in my life…”
“Oh, maybe I bought it for you thinking you’d want to read it…”
“But how come we’ve never seen it before?”
“I don’t know, but I think it’s yours…”
“It’s not mine. I’ve no idea we ever had this…”

And so on.

Just repeat that conversation but change the name of the book in question and you’ll have our afternoon in a nutshell.

I mean we do have a ridiculous amount of books. But the fact that there appear to be so many rogue books in the collection is worrying. We’re clearly just buying books for the sake of it, not paying any attention to what it is we’re purchasing. Much like when I had a massive crush on the girl who worked in Andy’s Records in Halifax – Jenny – and went in every Saturday to buy something. Something which lead to me having a massive collection of music and DVDs that ordinarily I would never have had – I just wanted an excuse to talk to Jenny. And then I saw her, after investing hundreds of pounds in this crush, out in Wyke with her boyfriend and I wanted to cry.

But that’s what it’s like with the rogue books, except without any kind of wishful love interest in the background.

Apart from, of course, the love of reading.

But you’d never find reading walking hand-in-hand down the street with a boy before stamping all over your heart and leaving you the proud owner of a Blink 182 album that you never really wanted in the first place.


Volume 3 – Chapter 87: There Will Be Blood

March 28, 2013

My dad has a saying. Well, he has many sayings. One of his favourites is “Sometimes having no strings to your bow is not a bad thing” which I take to mean “don’t let people know you’re good at things and life will be so much quieter” because if, say, word gets out that you’re good at IT or something then there’s always someone who will come along and ask you to sort out their monitor after they’ve somehow zoomed it in to 150% of its real size.

But one of his other sayings concerns DIY, although given the right circumstances it can be applied to any situation.

It is quite simple.

“If you haven’t drawn blood while doing a job then you’re not doing it properly.”

This stems from the time that we fitted (Get me – we. My dad fitted and I held things up or passed him tools and screws and the like) uPVC windows around the house. And not one window was fitted without some level of swearing and us having to wipe blood off the plastic which is, when you think about it, a really handy feature of the uPVC windows that they don’t really market them on. By about the third or fourth bloodletting, I must have made mention of it, and that’s when the parental wisdom was passed to me.

And it’s stuck with me.

And if I take it at face value it means that yesterday, when I nearly lost my finger in that washing-up accident, that was some of the best washing up I’ve ever done. It was certainly a job done properly!

But the decorating of the front room has been pretty much blood free. Despite it dragging on for ages and ages the end is in sight. But there’s been no blood. We haven’t done it properly if we haven’t drawn blood.

But hey, don’t worry, because I’m involved aren’t I? And I am the clumsy one. There’s bound to be an opportunity to draw blood, after all what’s more dangerous than a paint brush, a roller and some paint huh?


You’d think nothing could go wrong with that.

Until you factor in a clumsy boy on a ladder.

That really brings it up a notch. There’s a chance of bloodletting. Especially since Carole has been fairly convinced that I will fall off the ladder at some point throughout the whole thing and has even banned me from going up the ladder when she’s not home. As though her presence will somehow make me more stable or, if I fall, she could catch me in her arms. Neither of which are likely.

But I haven’t fallen off.

I have skinned my shin on one of the rungs, though.

Those children’s plasters are certainly coming in handy!


Volume 3 – Chapter 86: Dear McDonalds

March 27, 2013

Dear McDonalds,

Hello! I thought I’d write to you today because of a thing that happened to me which is directly related to you. It’s not your fault, as such, but you are responsible for providing the thing that led to the thing that happened to me. So, actually, maybe it is your fault. But let’s just say it’s not. Because that’s easier and I’m probably on safer ground legally speaking if I basically take all the blame myself and just say that this blog is a letter to let you know about it and not some kind of pointing finger of accusation.



So, I’m quite a clumsy person. I’ve mentioned that before. Not to you, of course, McDonalds as – like a volunteer plucked from the audience of a magic show – we have never met before. I have met many of your staff, however. So I sort of know you. And I’ve noticed nowadays you’ve moved away from the stereotypical acne-ridden teenager to a lot of people who need to wear wrist supports. I don’t know if that’s a conscious decision or if the strain of constantly lifting large cokes causes repetitive strain injury, but it’s definitely something I have observed. Anyway, I am naturally clumsy. I once fell over outside Westminster Abbey which meant that I couldn’t watch the Royal Wedding without having flashbacks, like my own personal ‘Nam.

And now another aspect of my life is tainted.

The washing up.

Now, I like washing up. I don’t do it very often, I will admit. I’m not the best at regularly washing up. I know this. It is a fault. And it is one that is pointed out on a regular basis by my girlfriend and the point is further emphasised with the gesticulations of a dried up finger because washing up is murder on the hands. But when I do wash up, my lovely soft hands enjoy the warm water and the suds, and I can wash the dishes and contemplate the world.

I was doing such a thing just today. Washing up a variety of plates, cups, knives, forks and spoons. There’s always a teaspoon at the bottom of the sink, isn’t there, eh? Even when you think you’ve washed everything there’s always a teaspoon lurking under the water like a pervert in a bush. But I didn’t get that far. Because as I was washing one of your collectable Coca-Cola glasses – the short ones that are the same size and shape as a can and yet, curiously, don’t hold a can’s worth of Coke – when it, for want of a better word, exploded in my hand and I ended up cutting myself to ribbons on the debris. My right hand, the hand I do all my favourite things with, will probably forever be scared. Much as my mind will be at the sight of my life blood dripping into a sink full of Fairy bubbles like the opening shot of a horror movie.

But that’s what happened. For a while I thought it was ok. And then I noticed that my hand was red, and the water was red, and anything I was near was red. And that I was the source of that redness. Me. Bleeding to death in the kitchen. Ok, not to death, but certainly bleeding. Maybe bleeding to a little bit weaker than I was before. But I stayed strong. I kept a level head and I turned to the man drawer for some plasters.

We have a massive bag filled with plasters.

It’s gone missing.

There were no plasters.

And I was dripping blood everywhere.

And the cats were circling me like sharks.

I was frantic.

And then  I found some plasters. That your staff had made us buy to support some charity or other. So you’d cut me and healed me in the same afternoon. I mean, they were plasters clearly designed for children, but still they stemmed the bleeding. But there is something a little bit wrong about a 35-year old man covered in plasters better suited to a child. If I saw someone like that on the street I’d think they should probably be wearing a special helmet incase they fell off a chair.

Which, given how clumsy I am, might not be such a bad idea.

So, McDonalds, I hate you and I love you. At the same time. Although I have used up all those plasters now, so if another one of your free glasses explodes in my hand I’ll have to revisit this.

Thanks for listening.



Volume 3 – Chapter 85: Babyface

March 26, 2013

I like writing. I do. I like putting  my thoughts into words and those words onto paper, be it real or virtual. Writing is a great way of expressing yourself and it’s fun. That’s the main thing, it’s fun. Sure, there are rules you should follow and things like that, but it’s still fun.

I’ve dabbled with writing for a long time. And, during that time, I’ve gone in and out and in and out of the idea of pursuing some sort of journalistic path. I used to write things for a games website until I found that all my free time evaporated quicker than a cup of water in the desert and I couldn’t fit in the time to play in order to write about the games. During that time I toyed with the world of games journalism, and I still do from time to time, but I’m worried that I couldn’t put enough time into coming up with lists of the Top 10 Things About Something that a lot of websites seem to run these days.

And I’ve toyed with the idea of news journalism. Actual news. In written form. But I don’t think I have the right frame of mind for that. I don’t think I  can be serious enough about a lot of things to produce a professional news piece. Plus, I’m originally from Halifax and what passes for news there is that a woman had the same iron for 50-odd years (even though she’d had all the bits replaced) so I don’t think I’d got the greatest grounding.

And then there’s my hatred of the Daily Mail.

But today I’ve encountered something else which has made me question whether a journalistic route is the way to go.

The Daily Mirror has run a story about what the Royal baby might look like as a teenager.



In case you’re wondering, the Royal baby as a teenager will – according to some pencil sketches probably done by Victor “I’ve drawn it so it’s true” Ambrus off of Time Team – look like a younger and slightly out of focus version of Kate or Wills. That’s the gist I got from that bit of really intensive journalism. You’re looking at a kid that, essentially, probably resembles one of the parents. You know, like it works for pretty much all families. Because of genetics and that.

You don’t need someone with some watercolour pencils and too much free time on their hands to work that out.

And actually, up until seeing the story in the first place, I don’t think anyone has been sitting around thinking, “Well, I would get on with what I need to do but I just can’t visualise what the Royal baby will look like as a teenager and that’s really putting a damper on my day…”

Or maybe they have. Maybe people are sitting at home running pictures of Kate and Wills through Photoshop to see what the end result will be and hoping that it doesn’t come out looking like Sloth from Goonies…

… although that would be pretty amazing.

Volume 3 – Chapter 84: Dear JML

March 25, 2013

Dear JML,

What can someone say about JML? You’re the greatest inventors of modern times. Without you, people wouldn’t know that their clothes would dry better with some knobbly balls thrown in for good measure, or that paint could be applied to walls evenly – and easily – with something resembling a pointer from a Ouija board. And the fact that your products are only available at what many people would consider to be the low-end shops makes everything just that little bit more exclusive, I feel. After all, why go to a swanky shop when you could just nip to Poundstretcher and get a static duster on an extendable pole? What more could you want?

But I’ve come across a bit of an issue, recently, that I think needs addressing.

Why do you have women putting on bras whilst standing in front of fans?

I mean, who gets dressed like that, really? No-one I know – and believe me, I have extensively asked around the office – gets dressed in front of a fan so that it looks like they’re putting on clothes in an 80’s pop video. No-one. And yet, in your advert for some kind of hold-uppy bra thing with breathable cups (the mind boggles) every single model is putting on her upper-body foundation garment in something which would be classified on the Beaufort scale as a strong breeze. There’s hair blowing all over the shop and everything. What’s going on?

Yes, I do realise that adverts are based in reality. I know that people don’t rollerblade behind dogs while on their period, or that toilet paper companies are not actually run by slightly scary toddlers in suits. I get all that. I know that they are works of fiction designed to entertain us and thrill us into wanting to buy your products. If these adverts were real then the one for Tampax would have a woman doubled over a hot water bottle, and the toilet paper one really uses some artistic licence on how exciting a boardroom can actually be.

I get all that.

But you’re selling a bra type affair which doesn’t look all that sexy anyway. A bra which seems to have cups made of a material for which the graphic looks exactly like the one Colgate uses to show how other toothpastes are shit. But for some reason, while you’re pointing out that your bra stops people’s boobs looking all wonky and pointing in two different directions like the eyes of the bloke that presents Dragon’s Den you try to sex it all up a bit by adding the breeze. Clearly your ad campaign was designed by someone who’d seen one too many Bonnie Tyler videos growing up.

If you’re going to take that approach with the bras, can you please apply it to all your other products as well. I think I’d be more inclined to buy an ironing board cover if it was being put on the board in a stiff breeze, or that beauty trimmer thing being used in a gale.