Zombie 101

January 31, 2014

There’s a couple of things I learnt tonight, travelling home on the train from Leeds after ten at night. The first is that you really do see everything life has to offer on public transport after a certain time – everything from people still working, to small people dressed like mini-Fifty Cents, or Fiddies as they’re probably known – a cross, of course, between the rapper and a child.

The other thing I realised is that I just don’t have enough zombie escape plans.

In that I have none.

Whereas some of my fellow passengers have as many as seventeen plans. Seventeen plans for something that, probably, will never happen. If you applied as much attention to your school work as you did to that you’d probably be able to form more coherent sentences and be less worried about the “coming zombie apocalypse”. Although, technically, it will just be an apocalypse and the zombies will come afterwards. A zombie apocalypse surely means an apocalypse that would wipe out the zombies, which is a good thing and therefore doesn’t need you to have come up with even one plan, let alone seventeen of the bloody things.

And then there’s your friend who is clearly wacky because look at him there, wedged in the luggage rack. He’s got a couple of “well-known” zombie plans and one secret one. He’s gone to the trouble of dreaming up a zombie survival plan and not trusting any of his friends with the information in case they become zombies and try to use their knowledge of his plan against him. He also, curiously, has a plan for if he becomes a zombie.

Which seems to imply that he’s banking on being some kind of intelligent zombie which, based on the evidence provided on the train, isn’t likely to happen.

But I don’t have a zombie plan. I’ve never really had a zombie plan. I mean, I had that plan in the British Museum that one time about what to do if the mummies came alive, but even that fell by the wayside once you realised that if you looked closely at one of the mummies you could see its willy.

Coming up with a zombie survival plan, though, isn’t that easy. I mean there are a lot of parameters to consider – where will I be when this apocalypse happens, for example. Will it be somewhere I am familiar with, or will it be somewhere completely new? Should I – between now and the inevitable moment when the human race turns on itself for, I believe, brains, learn the layout of every town and city I visit in case it happens while I’m there. For example, if the zombie apocalypse happened when I was in Huddersfield I’d be much better placed that if I was in, say Brighouse, where the best I could probably do is slow them down by throwing a multitude of paperback books at them, gathered from all the charity shops.

And with the head count of slow-moving, shambling elderly in Brighouse, would I actually know if the zombie thing had kicked in?


Morning Willies

January 30, 2014

This morning I was walking to the train station. The road was deserted, I was the only person about. This is how it often is in the morning. It’s the way I like it. I mean, it’s not all fun and games because there’s a bush that casts a shadow on a wall that looks like a lurking man, but other than that… yeah, I think that’s about it.

This morning, however, I heard a sound. It was an unusual sound. Sort of like tin cans being dragged along the ground. It was a metallic, reverberating type of noise. A noise that is somewhat out-of-place at 6.45 in the morning and certainly something which would pique my interest.

So, interest duly piqued, I tried to locate the source of the noise. I reasoned it was a tad early for a wedding car to be driving past me, especially given that there were no sounds of a car in motion, let along the fact that I’m not sure anyone really ties tin cans to cars anymore outside of romantic comedies written by Richard Curtis and, undoubtedly, starring Hugh Grant.

So I continued to try and fathom it out. The sound, it appeared, was coming from somewhere further up the road. Not too far, but just far enough away to be too far to fully investigate. It’s also a little bit weird to be creeping round a neighbourhood at 6.45 in the morning. No policeman, when called, is going to believe that I was just “investigating a noise”, so I was willing to dismiss it as a mystery. Maybe an animal trapped in a discarded tin can destined for the recycling bin, I figured. A hedgehog, or a particularly curious weasel. Something like that.

And then I saw the source of the noise.

It was like something out of a horror movie. If horror movies were made on quite a low budget and filmed on a dirty Huddersfield street. Which is a seperate horror movie in and of itself.

The noise, it turns out was coming from a little push along scooter. The kind that were all the craze that time. You know the ones. The ones when every child in the country wanted a scooter. I think it was possibly just before giant trampolines in the garden. They definitely have some sort of cross-over on the Venn diagram of trends because I’ve seen a video on You’ve Been Framed of someone on a garden trampoline while riding one of those scooters. It ends, as you’d expect, about as well as can be imagined just from that sentence (in short, he bounces up on the scooter, lands, loses the scooter which then bounces back and cracks him in the nadgers, rendering him sterile and this not able to continue his idiotic lineage).

So the scooter. It didn’t just roll across the road on its own because that would have scared the bejesus out of me. As it was it was weird enough.

As it was ridden by a small child.

Or maybe an average-sized midget.

With no-one else around. Just ridden from one side of the road to the other.

And then the sound stopped and the child/average-sized midget was nowhere to be seen.


Filling In

January 29, 2014

Today was filling day. The day of the filling that I talked myself into the last time I went to the dentist. And, just to win over the dentist even more, I arrived late for my appointment because buses are crap and old people don’t move fast enough.

The filling, however, was probably the best filling I’ve ever had.

It was also, curiously, the closest I think I’ve ever come to being tortured for information.

I don’t know if it’s the dentist’s unique style, or it’s because she was rushing because she was behind schedule (not because of me, I hasten to add – she was already running late before I got there) but it was singularly the most pleasant and terrifying experience of my entire life.

While I’m not a massive fan of going to the dentist, I don’t have a problem with it. I’m not freaked out by the needles or the drilling or any of that sort of shenanigans. I can be a bit antsy when I go for a check-up but that’s not because I’m scared of what will happen following that so much as the potential cost of whatever it is that I may or may not need doing. But other than that I like going to the dentist.

And I enjoyed it today. But, in the thirteen minutes (yes, really, that’s all it took) I was in the dentist’s chair I’m fairly sure I would have given up any information I was asked for if it allowed me just one little respite from what was going on in my mouth.

I turn up, and she numbs my gum ready for my filling. While that’s working she gives me a scale and polish – the most terrifying scale and polish I have ever had in my life. And also the fastest. These two things might be connected. But until you’ve had a burly Eastern European woman polishing your teeth at a massive rate of knots, skidding the polishing head around your mouth like a bulley ricocheting off the walls then I don’t think you’ve lived.

And then the filling.

“The anesthetic should have taken effect now. I am sure you will make me aware if you feel pain…”

I love the use of the word “should” when it comes to dental pain removal. It really instills confidence. “Yes, before we drill at your teeth and their sensitive nerve systems with this high-speed drill that fills your nostrils with the smell of ground tooth I’m fairly sure that you should feel no pain whatsoever. If you do, feel free to cry like a girl.”

And then she just dived straight on in and drilled my tooth out in no time at all. Even if there had been an element of pain I wouldn’t have had time to tell her before she’d finished what she was doing anyway. In a way I’m glad I didn’t feel any pain because I’m not sure she would have given me a further injection over just telling me that, “in my country there is no pain relief and to not be sissy boy anymore.”

If you’ve had a filling then you’ll know that after the drilling comes the rumbly thing that – I assume – makes some sort of key for the filling to stick to. In every previous instance of me having a filling this has been a low, slow vibration. Not today. This was the fastest tooth-rumbly-thing I have ever experienced in the thirty-odd years of dental visitation. I’m saying things like “yup” to her when she’s telling me I might feel some slight vibration and then my eyeballs are rattling round in my head like the balls in a bingo machine as she tries to shake every stray thought loose from my head.

Oh, and if you’ve never had your head positioned by someone dragging it around by the teeth – the teeth! – then I can heartily recommend that as well. I was asked to move my head, I moved my head. I did not do it satisfactorily and was physically moved with a vice-like grip on my lower jaw. I’ll tell you anything you want to know, dentist lady. Anything at all. Just don’t hurt me.

But having said all that it was still the best filling I’ve ever had.


Wrist-istence Is Futile

January 28, 2014

Who knows how large their wrist is? Is that a thing that people are away of? If someone said to you is your wrist large, medium or small, how would you answer? Would you be able to answer? Would you want to answer, for that matter, or would you just think that I was a little bit strange for asking in the first place?

But that’s the dilemma that faced me this morning as I decided that while my fall-related injury is getting better I needed to help it along with some kind of support. And to stop me whimpering when I tried to carry out basic tasks like flushing the loo and opening the door. It’s amazing how much that fleshy bit of your hand underneath your thumb gets involved in day to day activities. And that’s with my left hand. Imagine if it was the hand I did all my favourite things with.

I quickly ruled out that I had a small wrist, reasoning that if I did have such a spindly appendage if would have shattered on Saturday night as I collided with the ground at high speed. I also figured that I didn’t have a medium wrist. Not based on any kind of knowledge of the size of my wrist but because, at the time, I was looking at the more expensive wrist supports  and they only had them in medium. And I’ve met me before. I don’t have that kind of luck. I did enjoy the instructions on the back of the packet, though, on how to determine your wrist size. This may comes as a shock to you, but what you do is position a tape measure on your wrist, wrap it all the way round, and when it meets itself, that’s how wide your wrist is. There, apparently, is a need to write these instructions down. My belief was beyond beggaring at this point.

Anyway, it was fairly obvious I’d be a large. I could kid myself that I have dainty limbs, but I don’t. They’re wide, fence post like appendages which swing about me with little or not control.

And there were no larges on the shelf. There was a false alarm at one point as I spotted a large looming out of the wrist supports only to find that it was a knee support – again, I’ve met me, that’s the kind of luck that follows me around – so I was shit out of luck there.

And then I realised I could just by a tubi-grip bandage and fashion my own support from that for a fraction of the cost of a professional support. So that’s how you find me now. I have one entirely frictionless arm skidding across the surface of my laptop like Todd Carty on Dancing On Ice, wearing an elasticated tube with a thumb hole cut in it like some kind of fashion glove that the Emo people wear.

Oh, and two black marks on my thumb which seem resistant to washing, where I marked out the area for the thumb hole with a felt-tip pen.

The Wrong Side Of The Tracks

January 27, 2014

Like every good story, there are two sides to Deighton station. There’s the side that goes to Huddersfield, and there’s the side that goes to Dewsbury, Leeds and Wakefield. Both of these sides are clearly labelled. On the side for Huddersfield, for example, there’s a sign that says “This side for Huddersfield” and on the side for Leeds, Dewsbury and Wakefield is a sign which… well, you can probably work that out.

At 6.57 this morning I was broken off from my early morning lean-in-the-corner-of-the-shelter-perched-on-that-cold-flat-metal-seat-that-isn’t-really-a-seat-more-of-a-shelf-and-read-my-book reverie by a man shouting at me across the tracks. This has only happened to me twice in the last year. Once it was a man asking me what time it was, and today it was a man asking if he was on the right platform for trains towards Leeds.

He wasn’t. I was. I told him as much.

He then asked me how he would go about making his way onto my platform, as though it was some sort of secret way to do it. It’s basically up the path to the road, over the bridge and down the other side. It’s not a big deal, nor is it a long way. He decided that he couldn’t make it in the time he had available so looked, for all the world, like he was going to throw himself onto the tracks and run across that way.

He kept saying he didn’t think he’d make it. Like the White Rabbit in Alice In Wonderland if rather than just being late he had a death wish which involved being mowed down by a fast-moving train in the dark. “I really don’t think I’ll make it, my friend” he said to me, as though forming the sort of bond you’d only find in a movie when someone’s only got one more mission to fly before they can retire, until I realised he was actually from South Africa and talking like a stereotype.

This was at 6.57.

At 6.58 the express to Leeds goes rattling through Deighton station. It doesn’t stop. It’s an express. It wouldn’t be much of an express if it stopped. But there was a chance it would be stopping this morning with a man splattered all up the front of it. And the first thought that crossed my mind, in all honesty, was that if he got himself run over this delaying all the trains I would be furious. Not because I was desperate to go to work, but because when I woke up this morning my first wish was to be able to have at least another hour in bed. And had I know that a man would be attempting to smear himself across Northern Rail’s rolling stock then I could have enjoyed that.

As it happened, though, I stopped him from leaping into the path of an oncoming train by telling him he had six minutes to make it over the bridge – more than enough time and it was a much better plan than running across the tracks like an urban fox with a laptop bag. I stopped him partly because I knew the express would be along in a minute but mainly because I knew he’d get to my side and want some help getting up onto the platform and I try to make it a rule not to touch any other commuters. Even shouting across at him from the platform was a step outside of my normal commuting comfort zone.

He only just made it.



January 26, 2014

There’s been a tornado somewhere in the UK today.

Every now and again we get them, they blast through an area, do some damage and disappear leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Like Justin Beiber with a box of eggs. They always make the news, though, because it’s ususual weather for us. It’s like when the UK has an Earthquake and even though you can actually register higher on the Richter scale by farting on a chair it makes the news.

This tornado, though, has caught my eye for one particular reason.

The way it has been reported.

It destroyed a shed which a girl was in, as she took shelter from a sudden onslaught of hail on her way back from feeding her horse. It blew tiles off a roof. It blew down some trees. The girl in the shed could have been injured as it literally blew apart around her, like that bit towards the end of Twister when they’re tied to that pipe by their belts while the outhouse they’re in is destroyed. The trees could have fallen on people, destroyed cars, damaged property. All of these things are quite significant.

But that didn’t make the headlines.

What did make the headlines, however, is that this tornado spun its way through the area and “lifted up a group of feral cats”.

For starters, kudos to the person who noticed that. Whenever it’s really windy I tend to look at the tops of the trees to see them flapping in the gusts. I never think to look and see if there are a group of cats spinning through the air like a crisp packet trapped in a corner as a breeze blows past. But, I suppose, if you’re going to blow around any animals then a cat is the one you want because they will, at least, land right side up, like a fur-covered Weeble. I blame the success of the film Sharknado – now any animal things they can just muscle in on that action.

In America, when there’s a tornado you see houses destroyed, cars upturned and straw that has been blown through trees by the power of the wind alone. The cost of the destruction runs into the millions, the loss of life can be immense.

In the UK, the mighty power of the wind just disorientates some cats that were shagging behind your bins.


Disarm? No, Dat Arm

January 25, 2014

I’m feeling every letter as I type this. Well, every letter in the left-hand half of the keyboard, at least. So you, know, the main vowels and that kind of thing. In fact quite a lot of that kind of thing. And a fair bit of quite as well.

Because I’ve done what I am renowned for.

It’s been a while, I’ll admit. But I’ve managed it.

I’ve fallen over.

Now, I haven’t fallen over for quite some time. The last time I really remember doing it was at Westminster Abbey where, under cover of darkness, I tripped over some air and just ended up on the floor. The experience, as I have mentioned previously, was so traumatic that I couldn’t watch the Royal Wedding lest I have Vietnam-style flashbacks to the incident in question.

Prior to that fall I have falled down two sets of steps – different steps – one at school, one at university both resulting in no injuries but me looking like a twat.  Although with the one at school I fell down the steps, did a forward roll and stood back up. It was a thing of beauty. And not to be confused with the time when I fell down some other steps and really screwed up my ankle and spent a painful evening at home with my mum constantly asking me if it was an inside pain or an outside pain. Yeah. I still don’t know the answer to that one.

I fell down a sort of kerb in the car park behind the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I say sort of kerb because it’s an edge which then disguises itself as an incline and so if you step on it knowing it should be an edge, but find your foot on the incline you find yourself slightly off-balance and end up falling – at some considerable speed – towards the tarmac. Which is, in all honesty, rougher than a tramp’s beard.

It’s not the gravelly sort that really tears your flesh to ribbons. It’s the fricking hard stuff that may or may not break your left arm. I’m angling towards not breaking it as I’m writing this with both arms and it seems to be functioning perfectly well as a moveable appendage with pivoting joints. But it fricking hurts. I have, I think it’s safe to say, done what the medical professionals would refer to as “jarred it to fuck”.  Luckily it’s my left hand so it’s not the most important arm – although that thumb does control a variety of movements in every videogame ever, so it will be interesting to see how that works out, but it’s generally not my favourite hand.

Not that that makes it any better.

And Carole’s convinced that it’s worse than it is claiming that even if I had lost a limb and blood was pouring out of me I would say it was alright and just want to go home and put a plaster on it. Whereas what I’m actually doing is assessing the situation logically and not wanting to be taken to the A&E department of a local hospital on a Saturday night which will be full of drunks and boys with their heads stuck in saucepans because they were pretending to be Daleks just to be told that I have jarred it to fuck and to be more careful where I’m going.

If, come Monday, my had is the size of one of those foam hands you see at sporting events or in the audience of Gladiators then we’ll reconsider that option. Although I don’t think it will, because as I reach this point in the blog entry I seem to have typed the pain out of my hand. Which is good. Or my hand has gone entirely numb and I’ll have to cut it off with a penknife…

You know what though, we went the way we went – where I fell over – to avoid walking along the edge of a muddy puddle directly into the car park because Carole was convinced that we’d probably slip and fall over.

I showed her, didn’t I?