I’ve done a bad thing tonight.

Not that I particularly care. But I feel I should confess to remove some level of guilt.

When I got home from work, I found one of next door’s many, many footballs in the garden. Now I have mentioned to the mother that if I find a ball in the garden I will take it away because it’s getting a bit fricking ridiculous now and we have practically no fence left.

So I took it away.

And I kept it inside for a bit.

And then I felt bad about keeping the ball. Well, not so much keeping the ball, but the fallout from keeping the ball – after all, I did hear the 13 year old gobshite say that if I tried to keep his ball it would be a very different story. So, you know, I could barely contain the fear.

So, shaking like a shitting dog, I took the ball round the back of the house and threw it into their garden.


And it bounced into a bush and has now vanished.

So basically, I have lost their ball. Or one of their balls, at least.

I can now, if asked, legitimately say I have no idea where the ball is, because I genuinely don’t. I know the direction it went in, and after that it’s down to gravity, momentum, potential and kinetic energies and some other bollocks.

They don’t know, as yet, that I have lost the ball. They don’t know that I took the ball in the first place. Normally, I just hoof them out onto the massive expanse of grass that you would expect children to play football on and be done with it.

If I look at it another way, though, what I have done is created a kind of school holiday mystery, the likes of which used to fill many a literary school child’s time away from the classroom. A treasure hunt of sorts, but with absolutely no clues whatsoever.

I’m hoping there’s a chance that I’ll find the aforementioned gobshite’s stereo in the garden one day and can through that into a bush, hard, as well.

It’s going to be a long summer.


Grave Expectations

Carole has a special gift – it’s almost bordering on a super power – to be able to talk to strangers and find out something that a stranger wouldn’t normally tell another stranger.

Today, she was invited to call in to the house of a stranger to have a word with his wife.

We went off, this afternoon, to traipse around Mirfield Parish Church’s graveyard, in the hunt for a grave belonging to Carole’s great-great grandfather.

We’ve looked before and turned up exactly zilch in the headstone department, but this time we went armed with the vague knowledge of where it was – which section, row and column. Not that we knew where the section was, or the row. Or the column. But we didn’t let that stop us.

We did, however, let it slow us down quite a lot and mean that one of us went off to talk to someone mowing the grass while the other stayed out of the way and downloaded maps off of the internet while pretending they didn’t know the one doing the talking.

So while Carole was having the potted history of the churchyard told to her by a man who mows the lawns, I was downloading a spreadsheet created by someone ridiculously dedicated to collecting the information contained in a variety of different graveyards.  I found the map of the graveyard, so I knew where we were heading. And I found a spreadsheet map of the section we wanted.

And while I was doing that, Carole was finding out that a number of the headstones were removed when a railway line was built.

So you already know where this is going.

There’s no headstone on the plot where great-great-grandpappy Shaw is buried. There’s a lot of very tall plants that we waded through so that we could say that we’d been there. But other than that, there’s nothing else. Not a sausage. In an ideal world, we’d have waded through and tripped over a discarded headstone or something. That would have been marvelous and the sort of thing you’d find on an episode of Who Do You Think You Are. Rather than two people standing in waist high plants while a bemused dog looks at us.

But Carole was offered the chance to drive to a complete stranger’s house – and she would be delighted if we did – to ask for help in trying to locate the grave using a marvelous website. Probably the website I was using over the other side of the graveyard at the time. We declined the offer to just randomly turn up on this woman’s doorstep.

Because, if we had, I think we’d still  be there, being fed tea and biscuits until we couldn’t take it anymore.

There’ll Be Jor El To Pay

We got the Sky Planner’s available space to  zero the other day. Sadly, there was no sort of congratulatory message when we hit full capacity, although someone from Sky did ring and ask to speak to Carole, so maybe they were going to say well done.

It turns out that the Sky box crashed during a recording, which then saw us tape E4 for over ten hours. Ten hours. Do you realise how many episodes of repeated Big Bang Theory (very much E4’s new Friends) that amounts to?

Our Sky box crashes more often than George Michael driving along a round lined soley by branches of Snappy Snaps. While it’s a great bit of kit, it’s also all kinds of shite and we should probably have a word with soneone at Sky and get a new one.

I mean, we should. But obviously we can’t. Because even if you take out ten hours if E4’s hip and happenin’ shows, there’s 90 of the planner filled with stuff we want to watch but never do.

I’d happily sit and binge watch the twelve or so episodes of Supergirl nestled digitally within the box, but I think Carole’s sussed out I have a thing for blonde women who can fly and wear blue and red so I’ve got to play it cool. You know, “Kara who?”, “Oh, was that Supergirl? I didn’t realise…” That sort of thing.

If I’m clever and don’t let her in on my plan, I think I might get away with it.


Farther Away

You don’t really appreciate how much marketing there is for things like Father’s Day until you don’t have a father to celebrate.

Not that we, as a family, ever really did Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or Grandparent’s Day or any of that. I mean, even Earth Hour would often find us with every light in the house blazing away, albeit unintentionally, undermining the whole affair.

But, obviously, this year I’m hyper aware of the whole thing. It’s the same with anything that has the slightest mention of cancer – even a horoscope can rub me up the wrong way, but that’s just a typical Taurian, or the countless adverts for funeral plans and end of life lump sum payouts. Up until the end of February they were just things, now they are constant reminders and bloody annoying ones at that. Also, why do these funeral plans always give away a free clock so that you can watch your remaining minutes on Earth tick away.

But I digress. Slightly.

Father’s Day this year will just come and go, I suspect. We won’t mention it, dwell on it or stand out in the garden holding lit candles in remembrance. It’s made trickier by the fact that it is adjacent to my mum’s birthday, so we’ll obviously be visiting and wotnot, but the father thing won’t come up. In much the same way as we all glossed over his birthday in April without any mention whatsoever.

But that still doesn’t make the marketing less annoying. And the email stuff is just awful. You open up your inbox to find, for example, an email asking my why I hate my father so much. Shit, I’d love the chance to hate him again. That would be awesome. But I can’t. But thank you, marketing email, for allowing me to feel shit that a part of me, a teeny tiny part, hates my dad for dying on us.

When you tick, or don’t tick depending on what trickery the website is using, that box that ends up with you on a mailing list you realise that it’s going to get on your tits every time you see an email, but you don’t think it’s going to make you feel awful because there’s been a change in your circumstances somehow.

What companies should offer you, the customer who subscribes to their newsletters and sometimes buys their products, is a service in which you can tweak the messages you receive. Take Facebook, for example. You can – or could, they’ve probably changed the notification settings sixty times since I last looked – adjust every notification you received. Emails? Alerts? Message alerts? Certain friends? All that. You could tailor the experience to suit you, the user.

So companies with marketing emails should apply a similar process. You sign up for the mailing list. It gives you the option, then, to tailor it to tell the company what it is you want to hear about. Do you want to know about gifts suitable for your mum, your dad, your children? Do you want to know every time there’s a sale? Do you want an email every time Tassimo are giving away a free T-disk rack (they are ALWAYS giving away a free disk rack. ALWAYS. ALL THE TIME. FOR EVER. Although sometimes it’s a glass mug that has no handle but conducts heat like a trooper)?

You should be able to update your preferences based on your life. I should have been able to go through my various email newsletters that I never remember signing up to but occasionally read, and ticked a box that said “maybe stay away from Father’s Day” or “I don’t care about your free disk holders!”

That way I wouldn’t be asked why I hate my father so much, or why I haven’t bought him the perfect gift this year.

I’d just be able to coast through to my mum’s birthday and ignore the other thing.

The Frap Trap

Starbucks are a bunch of mean teasers.

This morning, me and my squeaky shoes walked through Bridgewater Place having picked up a delicious breakfast  yoghurt from Tesco. Our journey took us past Starbucks, my Friday lunchtime refuge from the stresses and strains of office drudgery. On the door to my preferred coffee establishment was a poster advertising three new flavours of Frappuccino.

Cookie Dough, Cupcake and Cinnamon Swirl.

All three of these flavours, to be honest, sound like sex on legs to someone who enjoys such things.

And yes, before you all bang on about it, I know that each of them possesses enough calories to boil five tons of water or something like that, but I genuinely don’t care for that level of food nazi-ism. So pfft.

Anyway, three new flavours.

I spent all morning trying to decide what flavour to have. I narrowed it down, quite quickly, to two – cupcake, sadly, is the third choice because it’s just a drink that will taste like a soggy bun. I mean, it will be nice and everything but it’s nowhere near the greatness of the other two.

As I set off for Starbucks at lunch time I was more or less decided. I would probably get Cookie Dough. Or maybe Cinammon Swirl. But probably Cookie Dough. And I would enjoy it and love it and want more of it – if only to upset the aforementioned food Nazis.

But when I got there, none of them were an option.

What the hell is that about, Starbucks? You tease me with the lushness and then you snatch it away at the last moment. You are cruel, cruel purveyors of coffee and cream-based beverages.

You’re just luck the banana caramel s’more is still on the menu, otherwise we’d be having words.