Volume 3 – Chapter 181: Despicable C

I don’t know what’s happened this weekend, but it seems that Carole’s out-spoken streak didn’t end with her being mean to vets yesterday.

This morning we chanced our arm at went to see Despicable Me 2 at the cinema. We went to the quarter past eleven showing and so, as you would expect, found ourselves in the presence of children aplenty. Which is not a massive surprise, obviously, because it’s essentially a kid’s movie with enough laughs for the adults as well. Or, to look at it another way, it’s a cartoon for adults with some bits put in to keep the kids happy. Either way it’s going to attract kids in the same way that flies are attracted to shit.

When we got to the cinema, there were already a selection of children hanging from the underside of the stairs while their adult supervision did pretty much nothing about it. Which is a more and more common thing, these days. When I was a child, if I’d started hanging off the underside of some stairs and swinging around my parents would have shouted at me, hit me and taken me home again. Probably. And not necessarily in that order.

But these children were allowed to carry on swinging to their heart’s content. Bless their little cotton socks. After all, if they were to fall and be injured in some way, their adult supervisors could sue the cinema for damages or something. So have it, tiny monkey-like children, you carry on swinging.

Of course, my immediate reaction was “What a collection of shits.”

Which made it all the more fun as they sat immediately behind us in the cinema and proceeded to kick the backs of our seats.

Just before they sit down, as one of the mothers with them started to point out where they should sit Carole, quite loudly, went “Noooooooooooooo!” followed up with a “Seriously?!?”

And as our seats were kicked more than an idiot standing behind a donkey, we had a small debate about whether we should move. It didn’t last very long, as you can imagine. And we moved to the back row of the screen, to a row which contained precisely two seats. And it was glorious.

Until another family of obnoxicons turned up so sit in front of us.

They weren’t too bad, in all honesty. Apart from the “can I sit on your knee? Can I sit on my seat? Can I sit on your knee” fidgiting of the child in front of me it could have been a lot worse.

And then it came to the end, and the Minion bit sin the credits. We were trying to watch them. And enjoying the bits we’d seen. When the family of obnoxicons just stood up. And then didn’t move. They just stood there. Blocking the view.

At which point Carole’s new-found love for speaking out took over once more.

Sometimes I’m ashamed to know her.


Volume 3 – Chapter 180: V… E… T…

“Does she scratch you at home?” asked the vet, with a small modicum of fear in his voice, as he reached down to examine Pumpkin.

It’s the first time that I’ve ever felt, when being questioned, like I’m in danger of having a cat taken away from me – or me taken away from the cat – because of its behaviour. It really was like being questioned by someone from social services because we had a child with an unexplained bruise or something. The initial check of Pumpkin elicited many a strange question – “She has eaten in the car?” he asked, incredulously, when he spotted a plate in the box with her. As Carole explained that it was just a small bit of food we used to lure her into the box I was just thinking that it didn’t really matter if she did eat in the car as she wasn’t driving and could, therefore, afford to focus her attention elsewhere.

But anyway, the scratching…

“She doesn’t scratch us at home,” said Carole. “But we don’t try and squeeze her tummy or look in her mouth.”

Which is true.

We actually don’t do either of those things. Because if we did then we’d be in a position where Pumpkin would, indeed, scratch us. Because Pumpkin, while affectionate, can’t be arsed with being handled. She doesn’t want to be picked up. She doesn’t want to have her tummy tickled. She just wants to lie around the house and, when she feels the need for some loving, she will come up to you and nudge you – repeatedly – with her head until her desires have been met. We have to always – always – remind ourselves that Pumpkin is not Peppa. We can’t just reach down and scoop her up. Not if we want to remain looking like we haven’t committed a theft in an Arab country.

Those desires are not met by a vet who – upon meeting him for the first time – is massively put out as Carole goes, “Oh, does the one that’s really good with cats not work on a weekend?” as though we have, in some way, got the short end of the veterinary stick and that we are about to witness a man be torn to shreds by our cat.

But don’t fear.

Because he massively misjudged how afraid of our cat we are. Rather than ask either of us to hold Pumpkin while he examined her – something which I would have been more than happy to do (I may as well put that veterinary work experience to some use, hadn’t I?) he ran off to “get a girl to hold her down”. Which is how we came to be sharing the room with a veterinary nurse who asked if it was ok if she scruffed Pumpkin. Which is what I could have done if the vet had just asked us. “Oh is he not a people cat?” asked the vet.

To which Carole replied, in a very subtle way, “SHE is a people cat. As long as those people aren’t vets.”

Which was both informative and a little bit threatening at the same time.

Volume 3 – Chapter 179: It’s Only Words…

And words are all I have.

I love playing word games. I have quite an unhealthy relationship with Words With Friends, having a decent number of games on the go at any one time. And recently I’ve started playing Word Feud. Which is just Words With Friends (which is just Scrabble) but with the option to randomise all the bonus tile positions so they appear, well, randomly across the board or – as in the game I’m playing at the moment – all clustered together in one place like a point scorer’s wet dream.

I’m pretty good at word games. When I played Scrabble against the majority of Carole’s family at Christmas I held my own with just one brain against however many. The reason, as supplied by Natalie, is that I have been to University and, therefore, know more words. Because as we all know, going to University greatly increases your vocabulary skills. And I’m quite competitive. I don’t like it when I’m losing. If I start to lose, I’ll fight back. Like if you trap a rat in a corner and it will try to rip your jugular out. Except that I use vowels and consonants instead of strangely large teeth and beady eyes.

I am currently, at the time of writing, having my arse handed to me in a game of Word Feud. I am being beaten seven ways from Sunday. I’m losing by over one hundred points. I’m not proud of that and, as I think I only have one tile left – an A, for those who care – unless there’s a “one hundred and something times letter score” tile somewhere on the board I’m pretty screwed. I’m playing a girl from work who I destroyed in our last game of Words With Friends. So this time I’ll concede my defeat. I’ll take it like a man. I’ll accept it.

But she’s totally cheating. She has to be. She’s just pulling words out of thin air. There’s something strange afoot. Fifty points here, fifty points there. The word “zols”, for example, has been played. It’s not a word you use in everyday conversation and yet it’s popped up with some ridiculous amount of points this afternoon.

But I’m not bitter.

It’s fine.

I’ve been beaten.

I’ll accept it.

I really will.

But this afternoon she said “something a bit more simpler”. Which is not even real english.

And yet she played a word like “zols”.

But I’m not complaining.

I’m going to take my defeat like a man. Like a good sport.

It’s a bloody stupid game anyway…

Volume 3 – Chapter 178: Now It’s A Travelodge…

“You know that hotel in Blackpool? It’s a Travelodge now!”
“Is it?”
“Yeah I have a lot of special memories of that place… We used to go there all the time for Christmas parties when I worked at Granada…”
“Oh yeah, what did it used to be called before it was a Travelodge?”
“Erm, I can’t remember….”

Special memories, eh?

Nothing screams special memories better than not being able to remember a key part of the special memories that you treasure so much. As she continued to describe these Christmas parties, and how – the day after – they would all go onto the beach with hangovers and the like – I realised two things 1) Those people at Granada really knew how to party 2) I’m glad I never had a Christmas do in Blackpool.

I’ve had one work’s day out in Blackpool and that was enough for me. We went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach – or, as I like to call it, Blackpool Beach, because it provides little to know pleasure whatsoever – and I played on those grabby machines all day. And went on a log flume. Oh and accidentally got on the Avalanche which I didn’t enjoy in the slightest but it did make me finally realise that I, as a person, am built for comfort and not speed.

And then it rained. Big, thick, heavy, warm rain. And then we sat in a pub and steamed for several hours.

Clearly nowhere near as much fun as I could have had if I’d had a job at Granada.

My Blackpool memory will never be a special memory – like the one my mother tells of taking me to Blackpool as a small child and the entire contents of the sea entering my pushchair through a tiny hole in the rain cover. Because, again, it was pissing it down. I only have memories of going to Whitby in the rain. Every time I go to the seaside the weather’s shit. It will never be a special memory because I’ve forgotten enough of it to make it just a normal common-or-garden memory. I don’t claim that me getting on the log flume and it rising up like the boat in Shallow Hal was a special memory. It’s certainly something that happened. But it’s not special. I’m also not entirely sure I see the point of log flumes.

But by only calling it a memory, and not labeling it as a special memory, it means that I am free to forget things. Maybe in a few years, when Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a Travelodge, it won’t matter that I can’t remember that Blackpool Pleasure Beach was called Blackpool Pleasure Beach. I won’t have opened my anecdote by claiming that the memory has some sort of emotional significance to me and that it’s etched in my mind as clear as day.

Apart from the small details like the names and things.

They’re not so special.

So if anyone knows the name of the hotel in Blackpool that’s now the Travelodge…



Volume 3 – Chapter 177: Hello, I’m Locked In My Own House

The postman came to the house to today to deliver one of Carole’s secret parcels that I don’t know about. It was, of course, too big for the letterbox and so he had to knock on the door. I was in the garden, pegging out washing, and thought that I had vaguely heard a knock, and so rushed through the house to see if it was the postie and if I would be able to catch him. In time to collect the post, that is, and not for part of my collection of delivery people.

When I arrived in the front room and peered out of the window, the postie was down the path a way, staring up at the windows trying to work out if someone was in. I caught his attention and shouted out “one minute!” to him through the closed front room window.

I then proceeded to leave him waiting for several minutes as I tried to locate my keys.

My keys which were where my keys always are if Carole is out and has locked the door after her. But somehow, my brain didn’t want to tell me that. I checked in my coat pocket. No keys. I was a bit flustered by this. How could I not have the keys in my coat pocket? The door was locked when I came home last night, so I must have used my keys to unlock the door. Oh god did I leave them in the outside of the door and they’ve been stolen by someone who likes keys or who wanted to use the bottle opener? But no-one would be able to see them because of that tree that’s growing up by the door. Oh god, maybe I dropped my keys when I was coming in and they’re under the tree, hidden by the ferns. Oh god.

And during all this, I kept popping back to the window and waving at the postman in a way that says “I’m just coming. Please don’t think of me as some kind of idiot who can’t even fathom out how to open his own door.”

I started to consider opening the front room window and inviting the postman to throw me the parcel over the bush growing in front of the window, but I thought this might be a little bit outside his comfort zone and, in this blame culture, post-people probably operate on a “very strict don’t throw post you might hurt someone policy” so I wouldn’t have been able to do that anyway.

I started to wonder at what point the postman would sigh and start writing out one of those “we could not deliver” cards, ticking the reason for non-delivery as “an uncooperative householder” when I found my keys. Where they should be. Where they always are when Carole takes her keys and locks the door after her. Exactly where I would have put her keys if our roles had been reversed.

I opened the door and apologised to the postman. I started to say, “Funny thing, actually…” but stopped short.

I have never seen a person look less impressed in my life.

Must have been something about my delivery.