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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Twitter is the New Paedophiles


Officials have announced that using Twitter is as bad as touching kids.

This may seem a disproportionate statement and I should apologise if anyone reading was inappropriately handled as a minor but, as a nation, we seem intent on having some kind of epidemic in our lives and Twitter is the new threat to humanity. In the late 90s we were all living next to a paedo. That curtain twitch wasn’t a caring neighbour ensuring that any local ne’er do wells aren’t robbing you blind, crapping on your lawn and spraying “Chaz 4 eva” across your driveway. No. They wanted to do your children. 
Obey!
The clamour faded as we realised that they probably didn’t want to touch anyone, they wanted to kill everyone! Yes 90 year olds Mr and Mrs Jones with their seventeen cats and rusting Fiesta were actually terrorists, intent on destroying you, your household, the whole street and everything you stand for or had ever considered standing for had it not looked like a bit too much effort. 

Now the maniacs Saddam, Osama and Mad Dog are all underground, Bush is ousted and there’s only Blair to be tracked and trialled, we need a new threat. Ever hungry to fill our insatiable need for villainy the press are more than happy to provide one. Only this time in the form of social media. Yes, the Premier League footballer, your local MP, the fit one from that forgettable girl band, some bloke at the hockey club and even the scruffy student next to you are all at it. Chances are the person sat opposite you now, seemingly just sending a carefree text to their mum are secretly doing it now! They are Tweeting! Terrifyingly, you might not like what they say. In fact, astonishingly in this day and age, you may even disagree with it! This must be stopped.


In the space of just 140 characters it would appear that anyone has the power to incite hatred, fear, disgust, disdain or a world-wide “trend”. Something akin to flares in the 60s, or the habit of singers scratching and screeching out lyrics of songs at the moment in order to infer passion and emotion in place of ability and musical talent. It matters not how obviously insane or irritatingly stupid you are. In fact the more so the better by all accounts! God forbid Joey Barton or Jordan, sorry, Katie Price hash tag some sort of revolutionary utterance or else we may be waking up to an entirely different world tomorrow!


My hockey club, my workplace, there is no escaping the fact that somewhere people are tweeting idiotic things they haven’t the mental capacity to think through and somewhere else a mass of people with not a lot else on are not only reading it but are literally incensed that they dare think such a thing let alone tell their tragic line of followers about it.

What happened to the common sense in the world? What happened to the naturally in-built filter that stopped us listening (equally dangerously one could argue) to the tried and tested academics, community leaders and national figureheads? Stephen Hawking? Nelson Mandella? Johnny Ball and Fred Dibnah!  How were we suddenly tuned in to the “thoughts” of some tart that screwed some guy on the last reality tv spin off? Most importantly of all – why do we care?



I am all for a free media for the one main reason that I can choose what I take in, what I ignore and most of all, the credence I award it. I will admit to you now that I do, on occasion, read The Sun. I say read. It has pretty pictures and it amuses me. I for not one second care about any of the contents; it has never stirred me to write a strongly worded letter of complaint, moved me to tears or for that matter initiated the batting of a single eyelid. It’s toss. Glossy, imaginative at best, toss. I find it embarrassing that as a nation, a race even, we can’t just take what Twitter is on face value.

Twitter is a way to while away precious seconds at work, to vent grievances, to report your daily life to the electronic vacuum in the vain attempt to believe that someone actually cares. The fact that people do should reflect more on their own empty lives than the Tweeter themselves shouldn’t it?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Big Announcement Time!


Dear Blog readers I have some big news. I’m not one for large Twitter announcements about my latest retirement from the England squad (I’ll play when asked Fabio), newest movie role (still available Mr Jackson) or window breaking episode (tut tut Matt Prior). But I have decided that this may be the best forum to announce this news. Ladies. Gentlemen. I’m in love!

I haven’t managed to tell the object of my affection this directly but, as any male reader will know, it’s blooming difficult! You don’t want to sound too needy, desperate, and we’ve only been together a couple of months. But the fact is when it is right it’s right and despite being totally different to “my type” I do get the buzz every time we’re together. The tingles of expectation, surge of confidence, the feeling of one-ness and unity that makes the whole world disappear each moment I hold her. It’s something I’ve not felt for a couple of years and I’d almost forgotten the elation. Just thinking about things now brings a broad smile to my face and wistful remembrance of the last time we spent time together.

It’s almost tragic to admit I know it won’t last. I mean I hope it will but the problem is I’ve learned several times in the past that these things just don’t. One, maybe two years at best before things seem cracked and no matter how much you tape over them, you know the cracks are there and things are just never the same. Sure, there are moments, but they become few and far between and the rest of the time you know that the connections aren’t as sweet. Then, one day, you just bite the bullet and there’s a replacement just around the corner.

Sorry for the melodrama - for now I’m enjoying the good times as I know it’s a rarity to be cherished, adored and savoured whilst I can, spending as much time together as possible. I don’t even care if Bill says you have no middle! I’m sure everyone else thinks theirs is equally as special but they just won’t have what I know we have, my beautiful CA Plus 5000 cricket bat.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Bread and Blogging

I realise that I have neglected writing for a while and I have decided to kick myself in to gear. I have been writing but I admit it’s mostly been cricket match reports and that, for the majority, carries almost no interest at all I know!

One of the other writing projects that I undertook was to submit something for a “zine”. In fact this is a foodie zine Cakes and Canapes compiled by my good friend Miriam Nice who was a large part of the inspiration for this blog initially. Her blog inspired publication features articles and illustrations centred around a particular food stuff each issue and I am proud to say I managed to have a short, cautionary (fictional) tale included in the 1st edition. Please do have a look at www.cakesandcanapes.co.uk to find out more. There’s a Facebook group, you can follow Mim on twitter, purchase the zine and she has a blog that I follow which is an entertaining cocktail of life and food combined.

I will be writing soon to update anyone who cares to have a read on: Boys Week (holiday), The Diet (low/no carbs…ouch), Temping (yes I have work for now), sporting conduct (cricket season is in full swing) and the rest that life has to offer in the meantime! For now I hope that you enjoy my submission for C&C.

Bread - A Cautionary Tale

The other day my mate told me that the best thing to do, with regard to my ensuing wifely predicament, would be to use my loaf. Annoyed, I swung my lunch box at him, catching him flush across the forehead. He angrily enquired “What’d you do that for?” to which sadly, I didn’t really have an answer that would most likely have made him happy.  Nope, no retrospectively suitable remarks what would’ve satiated his growing ire not to mention lump swelling on his aforementioned bonce.

As he lent forward, hands thrust throatwards with all the intention in the world to throttle the last breath from my very own soul transporter, it dawned on me that, now, his erstwhile words of wisdom made a crystal clear sense in my mind. Quick as a flash I opened my box and offered him a sandwich with a quippy remark of “you told me to use my loaf”. I paused, expecting the worst if I’m honest with you. Imagine my relief when he reached forwards and examined my crusty sacrifice. He was becalmed enough, whilst demolishing my egg and cress, to reduce his threat level to a mild distain and whilst he munched away, murmurs of satisfaction oozing between bites, my mind wandered to the international peace keeping power of the sandwich. Well, to put it more precisely, a loaf of bread.

We’re a simple race with simple needs. Given each worsening famine or fledgling war is proceeded by a sack loads of flour or loaf after crusty loaf of being dished out from the back of a flatbed to the suffering, embittered and impoverished it would appear to be a multinational success story. Bread. The simplest of things. The noblest of things. Saviour of the hungry and bringer of calm and reassurance. It turns out my disfigured companion had had the most valid of points and his initial, irreverent recommendation was not without its merits.

In fact it turns out that whilst a useful, if accidentally insightful point, it wasn’t a theory that could be applied to every conceivable situation. Specifically mine. When I approached my good lady wife, tea in one hand and glistening butter covered thick white sliced toasted glory in the other, suggesting that we could talk out our recent difference of opinion and rebuild a loving relationship with the most basic of food stuffs as the cornerstone foundation, she, so it happened, disagreed. Apparently bread, no matter the quality or covering whether it be Golden Churn or love itself, will not rebuild all bridges. Especially those burned by being found in the marital bed chamber with one’s very own secretary. I also found out that hot butter and scolding tea make evil bed fellows when combined in what can only politely be described as a vicious assault! 

I do salute you, bread, for all the good in the world that you may well do. Poverty and warzones may, for want of a better phrase, your bread and butter. However I regret to announce that it would appear not even bread can repair the damage caused by crumpet.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

20x20 Is Hindsight


There area many stark differences between men and women with regard to relationships. I don’t think that this is a statement worthy of any sudden gasps or astonishment. However one thing dawned on me fairly recently and I wondered whether it is just the group of rose-tinted bespectacled blokey mates and embittered, twisted womenfolk that I am acquainted with or a reflection on the general populous. It would appear that how the two sexes review our old flames and past partners differs as greatly as how we view our current beaus and romantic leads.

Most guys I know, when referring to “the ex” tend to look back on them with a fondness that is equal in magnitude to their general indifference shown at the time. In essence they remember only the good times. The happy summer walks and winter nights by the fire, how they got on with all of their mates and how much their mum loved the long-gone lady. “She didn’t mind watching the football” or “She always came to watch me play cricket”. As friends do it’s of course then our own job to remind them that the aforementioned ex was all of these things but above all a bit of a witch that we all humoured and never really liked or, in less extreme cases, she was “a bit dull”. No matter how unhappy the relationship was at the time, only the positives and hallmark moments are fresh in the mind of a man. Notably a single man I should add.

Conversely all of womankind whom I have ever known remember their own exes as “that f***ing a***hole that ruined my life for two years”. Yes he may’ve been “the one” at the time and his name was every other word that drooled from her mouth but once the six-month break-up sex has passed he is vilified and demonised regardless of the reasons for the end of the relationship (and of who dumped who).

I can’t for the life of me understand why this is. On both parts! I can honestly say that inexplicably I do the same and somehow, in my head, telling my brother “I know she was a bit of a psycho, but they were good times” doesn’t seem in the least bit strange or irrational. A “bit of a psycho”?!? Surely if this were an introduction to a woman you’d steer well clear. “Oh you must meet my friend Claire, she’s a bit of a psycho but she’s perfect for you”. Err, thanks but no thanks! It’s like saying someone’s killed, but only once, so that’s fine right? In the same way I struggle when told by a girly mate that they dated a guy for five years, even though he was a this/that/the other for all that time. Why? “Because I loved him”. Right. That makes sense then.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing but it seems the further men get from a relationship the more blurred the vision gets where as for women time lends a clarity, or rather darkly shaded perspective gladly absent from the moment. I think that maybe it helps them move on as opposed to us poor saps pondering the “what ifs” and “if I knew thens” that haunt many a manly soul.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

When I Rule the World!


The one problem with not currently being office-based is a lack of “water cooler moments”. You know, the random interactions with people in the office where you chat about pretty much anything that delays the inevitable return to your whirring PC and the daily grind. In fact the problem perhaps isn’t that I don’t have the moments but more that I still have the thoughts that need exploring when such chance encounters occur!

Fortunately, the latest one at least got discussed to some length in the pub last night and so I thought I’d share it with you now. It boils down to this –

When you rule the world, what five rules and laws would you instigate? That the whole of civilisation would have to adhere to and abide upon pain of, well, some kind of deity angered fiery brimstone fate worse than death. Or at least a good spanking. Now obviously, before embarking on such parameter setting you’d have already taken care of the whole world peace, suffering, so on and so forth – I’d expect no less from an all powerful being such as yourself. No. I’m talking about the things that’d irked you, that you have waited long and worked hard until, having climbed the godly career ladder, you could fix, stop, re-shape or simply CRUSH!

Maybe you’ll go from reading this and have your own discussion about it. Maybe you wonder how I ever got any work done in the past. Both are fairly understandable! But here, for your consideration, are my five.

1.       There will be a strict lane rule in all shopping centres. I’m not talking Tesco, I’m talking your Mall/Shopping Centre type multi-outlet places. It’s a simple rule, but must be obeyed as I’m tired of walking behind dawdlers and stutterers, wanderers and meanderers. ESPECIALLY during lunch times and in the 30 mins before closing. This is the time when people who have jobs shop. It’s hit and run shopping, get in, buy, out, and job’s a good one. The lanes are simple – window shoppers in lane 1, anyone about the age of 70, or likely to moan to the NHS about being too fat, or with seven kids in lane 2, then militant shoppers in lane 3. Simple!
2.       Jeremy Kyle will be killed. But he won’t be alone. Anyone who’s ever been on the show, shot. Anyone who’s ever been in the audience, sorry, shot. Now anyone who’s watched it on purpose, not through stumbling across it, or in fact has watched from start to end......shot, but only in the leg. There. That’ll do I think. I’m not against people seeking help, do it, it’s good. I just think really I hate chavs and when some poor child looks back when his classmates find his parents proving his dad’s not his dad because his mum diddled her partners mum’s cat at some point, surely we’ll look back and say “yes, that wasn’t too clever was it”!
3.       Drugs and prostitution will be legalised – and taxed. Now I have no desire to indulge in either to be honest but there is a lot of money spent on each from the public purse and nothing coming back in. So, lets sort that out and remove the criminal element. I know, it’s a serious one, I just would!
4.       Reality TV will be banned. It’s created too many monsters already. It’s not interesting to anyone aside from people who ought be encouraged to either end it all or just go read a book. Whatever the argument I’ve heard it. It’s controversial but these things breed morons for a host of additional shows and it’s just dragging the world down. If you want to do something informative and insightful at least call it a documentary.
5.       Finally, Adam Sandler will be banned from any further involvement in the film industry. Happy Gilmore, great, that one with the kid and Scooba Steve, good. The Wedding Singer, sweet. But for godsake man stop , please stop! He’s also responsible for Rob Schneider’s career and that is unforgivable. Failure to comply WILL result in dropping him on a Libyan stronghold or from several thousand feet onto Jeremy Kyle. I’m sorry, but you have run out of forgiveness in the hope you’ll recreate former glories. I have a French GCSE but 14 years on I’m acutely aware that I cannot now order a three course meal, buy a house or request unconditional surrender in French. You have to know when to stop.
There are many others. I’d ban fruit in cakes (unless made into jam or put on top), pickled eggs, odd socks, tiny yappy dogs and a whole host of things but for five, that’s a start! As you can see I’m a reasonable leader. What about you?

Monday, 21 March 2011

Five Simple Rules


Since I have newly acquired time on my hands I thought I ought write more. This is in part to really get practising and in part as the fish has little to say and I have a limit on the amount of daytime TV I can cope with.

The job hunt is on. I’ve set myself some standards to work to that I thought I’d share!
1.   WORK. I will apply for at least 5 jobs per day. I’ve done  seven today which is a good benchmark and whilst I’m sure I’ll run out of things to apply for eventually I’ll have “achieved” and that’s good. Not least because when people ask what I’ve done with my day then I can tell them that.  
2.   PLAY. Any COD’ing, or any XBOXing in general, will be restricted. Severely! Games follow completion of the above!
3.   ZI LIST. Also I have a growing list of tasks to be getting on with, kind of like a poor man’s housewife! At least one must be crossed off each day. Oh and I must get a piny......and pink fluffy slippers. Not for housewifery, just because they look nice.
4.   BLOG. I must, MUST blog twice a week. In fact I must do some writing twice a week more to the point. I’ve been re-reading some screenwriting guides and books so once the list (3) is nearing completion I will have a bash.
5.   READ. More to the point, I need to read more. I’ve neglected Steven Fry and for that matter a host of literary acquisitions these last ten days. This is naughty bad and wrong but I won’t beat myself up over it.
There. That’s a good five rules. There are other things to contemplate too. I’ve had suggestions of doing a different blog which I’m considering seriously. I am a man of many ideas you know! I also need to crack on with the bike. It’s about time and back injury banished I’m out of excuses. That and I fully intend to cook more having made cookies for the first time last week – so have to adjust the balance somewhat.

So, there it is! I know, it’s a bland blog this time around but it’s a statement of intent! If I tweeted I’d let you all know how things are going but my propensity for procrastination is severe enough without the excuse of another distraction to pervert my obeyance (not a word I know) of the above. Maybe once the screenplay is done!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Dear God


Dear God,

In light of the recent events - earthquakes, floods, tsunami, potential nuclear meltdown, financial crises, a wave of wars, increasing deviant criminality and the unfathomable success of “The Wanted” I feel now would be a good opportunity to apologise for the last, well, numerous years of making light of both you and your believers.

In fact I apologise for questioning your very existence too. I question not whether my friend has a Gran called Margaret just because I haven't born witness to any of her work. He assures me she knits a mean sweater and I believe him. Just because I have never seen her I do not assume that she is a figment of his and the family’s imagination. As such it was amiss to treat you differently. 

Despite the multitude of jokes made and/or forwarded by me I was in fact very sorry to hear about the (relative to the billions of years of Earth's creation, by you, of course) recent crucifixion of your son Jesus. It must be a very difficult thing to watch as a parent and though the temptation must have been there to intervene I understand that sometimes we have to let our children make their own mistakes. If you are ever feeling particularly low my door is always open and there will be a brew on. Surely even a deity such as yourself can be perked by a party ring and jammy dodger.

When I joked that my old housemate Ian and I were to create our own 'religion' of Chris-Ianity I trust that you took this in the tongue in cheek manner it was intended. Imitation IS the best form of flattery after all.

Thankfully I understand that you are an all forgiving being. It is with this in mind that I hope you will find it in yourself to forgive my trespasses. In return I with equally forgive those who’ve, well, you know. This includes the black eye Lee Torrington gave me in school, the person who ran into my car all those years back and, ok. I’m holding my forgiveness for the chap(s) who broke into my car. I’m opting for some Old Testament wrath when it comes to that, I hope that’s ok?

I digress. Thank you in advance for your all encompassing forgiveness. I will no doubt be in touch in the future as I have a feeling that I have some extra sin to get out of the system still but, once that’s all out of the way hopefully we can meet up for a Starbucks and muffin to discuss the finer points of that book of yours.

Many thanks,

Chris

PS: Is this what it’s like to be Catholic?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Hypochondria Woes


I’m dying. It’s official. I’ve checked and if Google can tell me where the nearest Morrisons is and what time True Grit starts on Thursday evening then it can’t be wrong now it’s telling me that I am not long for this world! I’ll laugh at those people who mocked me on Facebook when I said I was ill. I’ll be truly vindicated when I peg it at…..let me just Ask Jeeves…….3.15pm next Wednesday!

I have all the symptoms. Fever, well, I had that last week. Check. Headaches, yup. Chills, brrrrryup. Back pain – I have some of that too. Loss of appetite, well, yes, some. Which in my case must be the sign of an impending doom. Nausea, yup. That’s it. Yellow Fever – I’m certain. I now await the violent end with assured acceptance of my fate and a chance to, retrospectively, rub the noses of the head shakers and doubting Thomas’s in my phlegmy departure from this world.


In actual fact according to Google I’ll die at the age of 75 in 2056 and I have the health of a 32 year old man! What! I’ve lost two years somewhere, Jesus Christ no! I had so many plans, so much to do. Now so little time to do it. But I don’t know who to believe. It also told me I’m most like the Swedish Chef in the Muppets. Not Kermit, Gonzo, nope, I’m the hurdy gurdy chef!  Maybe I ought to consider a career change too? Why didn’t the careers advisor tell me this fifteen years ago? I wasted so much time. Where did it all go wrong?!?!

I think in fact I may have contracted hypochondria. You can catch that right? I’m not sure if I’ve kissed any hypochondriacs of late. Perhaps it was in the air!! I’ve been breathing hypochondriacal air? The thought alone brings back the nausea and I fear I must have a moment. I need a cure, there must be a cure! Ah, I have it. I need a slap! That must be it. Ok I’ve spent the last week coughing up parts of organs I was planning on keeping and innards that were never meant to be outtards, I had a weekend destroyed by a fever but come one now Chris. It’s time, as I’m reminded most days, to “man up”.

The problem I think is that perhaps I’ve not contracted hypochondria so much as it’s been infused into my very soul. A constant workplace chorus of “oh that doesn’t sound very good”, “you don’t look too well” and “should you really be at work” has me doubting myself! I’ve never really been a feeling-sorry-for-myself type before (well not this bad) so why should I be now? That’s it - I hereby give permission to anyone, everyone, to verbally abuse me, slap me (though not the face) and do whatever you feel necessary next time you see me feeling pitifully sorry for myself and wallowing. Tell me to eat more fruit. Suggest perhaps if I made more use of my bike and less of the Xbox that I’d be fitter or that perhaps playing hockey isn’t the best cure. But please don’t offer sympathy, I’ve wallowed in it for too long now!

Monday, 14 February 2011

C-Bombs, Rants and Car Interferers


I was going to write a blog about the C-word. You know, Cee yoU Next Tuesday? The C-Bomb? The MacBeth of cursing? About how it can, for some reason, cause the utmost offence to some and how those people who automatically proclaim how much they “hate that word” cause an equal, proportionate amount of annoyance to those to whom they proclaim it. I, for one, am a fan. Whilst I agree with my mum, and most mothers no doubt, that you don’t have to swear to be funny I must add this caveat – it does help!

A well timed c-bomb, my new preferred suggestion of the unmentionable, can add such weight to one of my favourite things. A good old rant. It was this situation that I found myself in this morning but before I tell you about that I will paraphrase the would-be blog. The c-word has been demonised thanks to two opposing groups of utter idiots. One group, the Danny Dyer would be gangsters of this world (they pronounce it “caaaant”) who were no doubt bullied at school and have severe inadequacy issues and therefore must act the ‘ard man to anyone half their body weight or size but would really relieve their bladder at the first sign of trouble and end up working in Accounts. The second group a generation of banner waving protest-at-mis-matched-sock-for-the-sake-of-having-something-to-do-with-their-lives types who need to find a reason for living because they think no-one will ever love them for being themselves and therefore they need to have a cause. Like hoodies, Ug-boots, iPhones and Audis, perfectly usable in their one rights and well designed for their given purpose but soiled by misuse by mindless thugs, wannabe “it” girls, pretentious faux yuppies and men with small genitalia.  I personally believe that everything in moderation is the best approach. This particular word should be used sparingly as part of a calorie controlled verbal diet of delightfully verbose passages punctuated by the occasional monosyllabic four letter word infused tirade. It’s the wordy equivalent of feel good food. A Ginsters for the irate, a Big Mac for the put upon and at times it deliciously hits the spot.

The reason that I curtail by musings over the c-word is because of this. Last night some low-life broke into my cursed car. Nothing was taken, they had a good look around, tossed things this way and that. Papers and content as opposed to.......anyway. Despite the fact that I never intended to use my blog as a ranting post I need to vent. So. To whatever scumbag that broke into my cursed car last night I have 3 things to say:

1 - What's wrong with Ben Folds Five and Adele? I ought to fill up on N-Dubz tat and Cheryl Cole so you’ve something for the Mrs next time you musically illiterate vermin.

2 – Speaking of which, next time look behind the passenger seat where my bag with anything valuable was aside from the £300+ of cricket kit in the boot. Moron.

3 - I hope you die of internal rupturing from a showery encounter with a large anything-but-gentleman in the next remand institution that you happen to find yourself in. You are a waste of skin, no matter how much you claim to love your mother, and no doubt in fact fall in to one of the two categories listed above. In fact no only do I wish a pox upon you but I hope your entire family wake up tomorrow and find that the Sky dish doesn’t work, Jeremy Kyle has been cancelled, all of their sports clothing based wardrobes have vanished and been turned into things from Marks and Spencers smart-casual knitware range AND that they can pronounce the letter “T” making them outcasts and an embarrassment to you.

I do feel a little better now. Just a little mind. Try it yourself sometime and let me know how you get on. Oh and if any none regular reader want to buy a, ahem, pristine Peugeot 206, very little wrong with it.......

Friday, 11 February 2011

Why the Chinese Eat Dog.


Now obviously it’s a sweeping generalisation that the Chinese, as a nation, eat dogs. In fact of the Chinese people that I’ve met and known several may have had dogs (as pets!) but I know of none vanishing in a black-beany haze. However, whilst I am truly a dog lover, and not in a gastronomic sense, I am coming around to perhaps some motive at least as to why one may indulge in a pup pasty or a Lassie stew.

Just a quick note for any vegetarians reading - I understand that you may have experienced the following nor in principal agree. For your sake if you substitute the following; turkey for a brussel sprout, pork for cauliflower, beef for broccoli, chicken for a leek, duck for a nice fresh carrot, fish for mangetu and lamb for a sweet honey roast parsnip then you may just get the gist.

So, the theory that I have goes thus. The cuter the animal, the better the taste. At the very bottom of the scale, I can assure you, I once tried alligator. Beastly fiend, the epitomy of leathery evil and a taste of fish with a porky texture. Quite unsettling compared to actual pork.  Pigs, occasionally cute but generally boarish and certainly seldom a childs preferred object of affection at a farm visit is turned to pork chops, a filling but average meat rarely cooked to jaw dropping standards. The occasional piggy cuties are simply explained. Bacon. Mmmmm.

So onward the cute vs flavour scale continues. Turkey, an ugly bird and thankfully retained for one feast a year, steeped in gravy, cranberry and all manner of accompaniments to make it bearable. Contrastingly chicken, cute, fluffy little things that grow into amusingly jerky adults, are really rather tasty! The Colonel has made a fortune from it. Would his turkey have been finger lickin’ good? I doubt it. As we all know Nemo, the cute little fella and his fishy, adventurous, underdog nature go fantastically with chips on a Friday night or perhaps cream cheese on a breakfast bagel. Mmmm. Moving onward and upward is steak. Her big brown eyes and fluttering eyelashes, that look of love and a slap from a big dark tongue as you pass the pen. Deeeeeeelicious.

Finally the top of the English tree at least, just pipping Bambi, it's lamb. Fluffy, bouncy, mint-saucey heaven. Whether drop off the bone, flavour sensation Morrocan undertoned beauty or pink, simple, tasty joy. Top of the cute AND taste tree you see!

Surely, continuing on this scale we all know what’s next. Are nations are just ahead of their  time? A puppy fondue perhaps? Kitten casserole? I have no burning desire to find out personally for two reasons. Firstly I am, as stated above, a dog lover. Loyal, fun, the most interactive of pets and the one that loves back. Secondly, if dog is a wondrous ambrosia, send from the gods to nourish us then what is next? After having this discussion with someone last night I couldn’t help but drool a little and my tummy let out a slight whimper as the latest Huggies advert flitted across the TV screen. I'd best stop at lamb!

Statistically proven?


Thursday, 3 February 2011

My 30s so far!


I have had so many people tell me “it’s downhill from here” this week it’s untrue. I had no fear about turning thirty. None.

It's no secret that I fully plan to grow older in a disgraceful way without fear of recourse or ramification. I have never really feared what people think of me – as can be seen by a number of temporary summer jobs (Sherriff of Nottingham/Guy of Gisborne, ‘Arry the Betfair Arrow) and misadventures (Full Monty!). But judging by the first three days I have to hold my hands up, I was arrogant and wrong. This also proves the point that there is a first time for everything.

Tuesday, day one was perhaps just a mild suggestion of things to come. Simply I managed to mid-thumb the alarm, so I woke up late, just leaving time to grab the obscenely sized cream cakes and actually get to work. A day of little work and long lunch was what the doctor ordered before a quiet birthday family meal. The calm before the storm perhaps.  An absent minded slip first thing though was the tip of the ice berg!

Wednesday was the day of celebrating with the guys. Plans made, rendezvous agreed. Ah the best laid schemes of mice and men.......Work came and went. There is an atmosphere you could cut with a knife at present that I was gleefully unaware of in my birthday stupor resulting in a chainsaw massacre of pointed looks and sharp remarks. Still, it didn’t matter, I was a drive home and shower from heading to the pub for a session with my eclectic group of mates. Tragically Le Car had other ideas. The middle of rush hour, the third of four lanes on a major road and clunk. Le clutch est mort Rodders. 45 minutes sat in accelerating live traffic before police assistance to push m’poor motor off the road followed by another hour and a quarter awaiting the RAC. Another trip to the same garage and a key swap meant three hours to get home in total. Fortunately my wonderful mates came to get me then fed me great company, good cake and sweet, sweet eliquor Jack Danienls.

Thursday managed to cap the lot! Having fought off the warming alcohol infused blanket of sleep i found myelf donned in a fetching medical dressing gown and sports shorts hiding my modesty and awaiting an Xray at the chiropractors. I say hide my modesty but to be honest the shorts were overkill on what was a very cold morning! I took up my position with childish glee, facing front then to the side for my portrait and profile shots. All that was missing was my convict number and a stripy top! All this to finally find out what’s been causing more than a little discomfort. My naive enjoyment of the whole process was given short shrift.

Whilst the words “hernia”, “broken” and “slipped” were kept well away the phrase “unusual for someone your age” and “degenerative” came as far more of a surprise. As always a flood of questions rushed into mind 30 minutes after leaving but it’s a little late. What does that mean? How serious is it? How can I stop it!?!! I managed to get myself into more of a tizz than Madonna in an African orphanage and I’d quickly forgotten my newly adopted assured approach to all things life and beyond this year. I contemplate asking my friend Google but refrain. My mind plays enough nasty tricks on me without giving it any additional ammunition. I know, I’m, a big drama queen but my only trips to hospitals involve visiting so this has got me a little messed up.

Now I sit writing my blog, attempting to drown out the creaking ceiling and pounding bed springs in the room above, things have settled within me. An afternoon chat with the Doc cleared enough things up thanks to calming phrases that it would’ve been good to hear at 8.30am. “It’s nothing unusual, just a little sooner rather than later” and “it may mean a few more trips and treatments before things are quite right”. Don't worry readers it really isn't something to get concerned about, just much ado about nothing.  I in fact cheered myself up with dinner out and a self-gift of a Derek and Clive CD! Brilliance in a flurry of C-Bombs, it can't help but to raise a smile!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Back, Crack - That's That.


I was jumped on by a large man last night. I was laying there, quite serenely when all of a sudden jump…………… crack ……… sigh.

This was my second trip to the Chiropractor, sorry, Joe as he would have me call him, of the week. I have quickly noticed that despite a lack of grease and nudey calendars, Chiropractors are from the same stock as mechanics. Each are armed with an array of tools meant to bamboozle, confuse and put the fear of sudden, catastrophic failure into out minds. They can both do the teeth sucking followed by a low, steady “hmmmm” and “you’ve done a good job on that ‘aven’t you?” Have I? How? What HAVE I done? Finally they’ll use an unheard of solution to fix an unfathomable problem at an extortionate price – and you, like I, will pay it.

I have no more an understanding of my own body as that of my Peugeot. I know that each has a habit on cold days of wanting nothing more than to be left alone to sulk and has no desire whatsoever to venture out into the wider world. I also know that for the most part they each run smoothly, taking whatever is put in to propel me through my daily duties. Where I start to have problems is when I’ve no idea what is wrong but it just won’t work! I can put the car down to it being French. This isn’t really from a distain for the nation itself. I’ve met a handful of French folk in my time and they’ve varied greatly. Some were slightly aloof but only borderline rude, then there are the absurd delights of the mad French scientist in my office. Despite his anti-royalist mutterings and that time he brough up his enjoyment of the concepts of torture, he really is good mileage for whiling away the hours at work. In fact thinking about it now he is well worth a blog of his own. I have successfully introduced him to the concept of bringing in or making cake for celebratory events – new jobs, birthdays, anniversaries etc, resulting in his valiant effort at a chocolate cake. Rich, though a tad dry. Plus sometimes in mid flow I can close my eyes and it’s like having Peter Sellers in full swing sat behind me. Still. This has no impact on the car. No these thoughts are just because, for no apparent reason and at the most inopportune moment she, for my car is Jess, just decides not to work.

In the same way my body has recently rejected me. Like the car, after years of abuse, it has decided that enough is enough and my back has developed somewhat of a discomforting stabby pain. It could just be the ill will of many a disgruntled character perhaps but, for now, I’m putting it down to sporting misadventure. Now I’ve never seen anyone about any strain or strife before. I always believed that doctors, physios, the lot adopt the one-fits-all solution manual that IT people have but in stead of “turn it off……then back on” it’s the instruction of stopping whatever it was when you noticed the pain, for an arbitrary six weeks. Playing hockey you say? No hockey for six weeks. Swimming was it? No swimming for six weeks. Eating a cornetto whilst thumbing Danielle Steele’s Big Girl, a tale of one sister overcoming the neglect of living in the other’s shadow? Well, you know the score. This time however it was a little more restrictive though and, well, I now find myself beneath the big jumpy man cracking my poor back.

Last night my housemate asked if it’d worked. The truth is, – I don’t know. He’s done stuff. I can tell stuff has most definitely been done. I just am not sure what. But I know, like the car, it is costing me a great deal of money in exchange for a little of peace of mind. Still, for now that has to be cheaper than a new back.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

My Man Flu Theory


I have a theory about man flu. Now, having reviewed my current list of followers I can see that sharing this may not be my wisest move but, on the flip side, I’ve never been famed for making particularly safe or wise decisions.

Man flu is deadly to women. I know. It’s a shocking medical revelation that may well come as a suprise to some and be met with a shaking head of dismay nay, a sigh of disbelief by others. But hear me out.

For as long as men and women have been around, since the days of “Ug” and “Ag” or “Adam and Eve” depending on your belief in factually proven science or popular fiction, the debate has raged hard in the realm of gender comparisons. We have each been given our relative skill sets though, according to some, running the line at a football match is still to be decided. The real bones of contention however always surround suffering and pain and on this there seems to be little agreement. I just wanted to throw my own spanner in to that cauldron of confusion.

As all men will tell you, being hit in the most private of private parts, normally my experience would suggest on the left one, is excruciating. I will always remember the shot of a burglar, crest fallen with legs akimbo either side of a roof beam as he was making his escape from a drugs store in the States. Having in fact burst one of his giggle-berries he was left stricken, awaiting his inevitable arrest and subsequent hospital treatment. Now that is obviously most extreme but still, there are some amongst us, almost half of you I’d presume, that would argue such agony pales into a mere pin prick compared to the emergence of a child into the world when travelling the au natural route. The problem is that no-one is ever going to be able, truthfully, to compare. 


Real Pain?
Such an ailment as man flu has different descriptions depending on your sex. For a man, this is the vicious attack by a bug causing thumping headaches, making your throat feel as though you’ve just gargled concentrated sulphuric acid whilst chowing down on some rusty razor blades. All of this is closely followed by attempting to cough up your feet by drawing them and every internal organ out through your chest. For women, it’s when men get a pathetic sniffle and thing they are dying. This whilst thinking that they would not only still go to work but also paint the Sistine Chapel, do a weekly shop and, depending on the individual, all of the above whilst breastfeeding and not moaning. Not once. The only explanation that I have been able to come up with to explain such polar opposite opinions MUST be that man flu is deadly to women.


Now my medical training is somewhat lacking. I did do a first aid course whilst at school and I have resuss’d more than one Annie in my time. Such training has served me well thus far – I’m plague free and have numerous times fixed bleeding hockey players with bandages and a modicum of sarcasm – so I trust it implicitly now. The fact must be that women must rarely catch man flu or else they would surely demonstrate a morsel of sympathy, an iota of warmth, a soupcon of understanding. But no. Since as a species we’re so fond of a good conspiracy theory how about this? Rather than not being able to catch it, I think it’s just very difficult. However, when a woman does get man flu, it is deadly. What with the majority of coroners being men, they simply cover up this terrible truth and fritter any unexplained deaths away as aneurisms or heart failure.


This I feel would explain the lack of sympathy, of medical assistance, mopped brows and warming cups of healing tea. There is no empathy because there is no back catalogue of shared experience upon which to draw and human nature does have a tendency to pour scorn and doubt on those things we simply cannot understand. A reasoned argument I feel and, gentlemen readers, one that ought at least earn you a cup of tea and the TV remote if not for acceptance, then more for the worry of your delusional state than the agreement of the theory.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Job Hunt MSc



I spoke to a mate of mine last night and he has been told that he’s about to lose his job. Now, being a friend I was supportive, we went for a pint and I tried to share all of the encouraging things I found out when I was in the same boat last June. Tragically I just don’t think I am that good an actor. I worry that he saw through my thinly veiled efforts to gee him up.


The fact is that the two months of job unemployment I had, having been made redundant, was the single most soul destroying time of my life. Worse than when, at six years old, I discovered that Alison Palmer wasn’t going to be my wife. Worse than when I was dumped after four days by Caz Austin when I was 15, EVEN THOUGH I bought her a dozen roses. Worse than when my mum sat me down and told me that my parents were going to get a divorce and, though it pains me to say it, worse than the 102 minutes I spent watching “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” having adored “Desperado”.


Having forged a career since leaving University, making subtle career moves to gain experience, learn new skills, make myself more employable within my field and risen to the heady if inaccurate job title of Road Safety Specialist, I was fairly happy with my lot. One day last April I met up with the boss. I was bought a smashing lunch, we discussed what my career goals were, the fact I’d like to gain experience of working abroad and when I’d be getting my iPhone. The next day four of us on secondment were told we had four weeks notice and after another few weeks of “working from home” the inevitable happened and the consultancy had to let us all go. That’s it. Done. Thanks for all your efforts. What a turnaround.

So what was next? I’d been applying for jobs within the industry but at a time when public spending everywhere was being cut, Local Authorities everywhere shedding staff, what could I do? Well, the first thing was to go through the process of signing on. My first visit to the Job Centre told me everything I needed to know. I explained what I had been doing and got……..nothing. A confused look. I handed over my CV, explained my transferable skills…..nothing. The system is not set up for people with a degree let alone a Masters who actually want to find work! The next eight weeks were hell.

Weeks one and two: Enthusiasm at the ready. I thought I’d find a filler. Something to pay the bills before my undoubted talent was unearthed and I was restored to my rightful place amongst the employed. I had already exhausted applications for jobs relevant to my experience so on to websites, the paper, any source I could. I signed up to ten recruitment agencies, applied for temp this that and the other and cherry picked a few permanent posts that excited me and that I could turn my hand to. I heard nothing.

Friends - Always there to lend support!

Weeks three and four: Chin up time. It is still early doors. Sadly working from home with no work to do had put pay to my appetite for daytime television and any box-sets of choice so my routine became one of facebook, job hunt, facebook, job hunt and then making sure I dragged myself out to keep up with my weekly socials. I was tired though. Staring at my laptop, seeing the same pages, same job, getting the same, silent response.

Weeks five and six: The realisation. Why would anyone take me on for the role of “Office Monkey” when there are fifty people who’d just left the same role looking, who’d be there for years, brain optional, when I’d be there for as long as it took to get something great. Surely the JC would help? No. My fortnightly visits were nothing more than a five minute wait to get my book signed. I want a job. I need a job. What assistance are you giving me? Why won’t you help me? My salary expectations have dropped. I was on nearly £30k. I’ll now take £6.50 an hour. I’m conscious that I need to plan for the future, I can’t afford to keep my lifestyle. My desire to go out has waned. I’m being sucked in. My girlfriend knows and it’s a chore to see her so that falls by the wayside. Friends offer advice. Have you tried this? Have you tried that? Then the looks of sympathy though I’m not crippled by disease, my dog has not died.

Weeks seven and eight: The Fall. I’ve dropped a long way in the last two months. A glum and hollow individual. I queued for 90 minutes to get into a jobs fair. In the rain. A jobs fair with almost no jobs! Toward the end of the queue two women arrive and chat to the guys in front of me. One declares “I’ve been out of work for over a year now but I’m not queuing for an hour to get in”. I vow that I’ll never get to that stage and it’s the impetus I need. Another wasted trip to the JC but my saviour arrives in the form of a mop.

My friend offers a week of work. Cash in hand. I um and err for two hours – he works in a storage place and it needs a good clean. How much pride have I got left? What if someone I know sees me? I go to look at the job and take it. It’s a week out of the house more than anything, watching the comings and going of mystery visitors to their lock-ups, putting my degrees to good use sweeping up behind them. It’s funny. I thought that week would be the final straw of humiliation. Instead it gave me everything back. I was off out to the pub, bounding around the cricket pitch despite the aches and pains of a hard days work and lo and behold I got a call for an interview with an agency.

Having worked in recruitment the junior agent impresses me very little but I know I can impress again, given the chance at interview. In fact I like him decidedly more that the Job Centre robots who have no interest in me, my welfare or job search it’d seem. Perhaps because he sees a profit? I couldn’t care less about his motives. Within a day I’m starting an office role and from their have found myself in my current post. My description to anyone who asks how it’s going is simply “it’s a job”, a phrase that means very little to them I know, but it means the earth to me.

So what advice can I give to my friend? I passed on my tips, offered to help with his CV. The fact is that it’s like ‘Nam. If you haven’t been there, to that dark place, then it’s hard to imagine. It’s hard to accept where you’ll have to go to before things start to look up too. Worst of all, you are on your own. It’s good to have that grounding once in a while but it’s amazing how quickly almost a decade of work can be cast aside for a mop and bucket.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Write-Watchers


The problem with telling people that you want to write is that it’s a statement of intent followed by a tidal wave of questions. The worst possible one, of all, is the nag.

“When’ll it be done?” or even worse “have you started yet?” P*ss off is the response, but it’s almost as much for them making me face up to my own tardiness as it is their constant and irritating drone. Did Douglas Adams have to deal with this? Kubrick? Tolkein? I ought ask them, though a lack of ability (and belief) in channelling may be somewhat of a hindrance. There’s always one barrier or another…….

And there you have it - excuses are something that I’m not short of. Work is so tiring. I have too much hockey or cricket on. My brain is just not functioning at the right level, I must be stressed. It’s all rubbish of course. Firstly, the only thing tiring about work right now is the constant threat that someone may find out I haven’t got much to do at all. Please don’t take that the wrong way. Every task tossed my way is duly dispatched of the nearest boundary completed and error free. But then after a while I get bored of my own voice asking for the next, slightly more tedious task to be imagined up. Secondly, there is no such thing as too much hockey and/or cricket.

The problem is that boredom does not inspire creativity. It has however been inspiring an appetite the size of a small African republic. Something that I, my tightly buttocked trousers and my supportive team mates (a weekly fine of fattest man on team and requests for a truffle-shuffle if ever this is queried) are all too aware of.  Hang on a second. That has given me an idea. No, not the dancing. Perhaps I could combine my two newest skills.  Create a reward based system to spur me on and fight the steady death of the ol’ grey matter that currently besets me at every turn.

That’s it – I HAVE IT!


I'll draw up a price list later but for now, a special introductory offer -  I'll knock up three excuses for a battenberg. They are my speciality!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Fancy a Brew?



Delicious.......
Having started my new job I have been dismayed to learn that nobody in my office drinks proper tea! It’s all green, fruity, twiggy concoctions. Why anyone would want to drink something resembling a mug filled with leaper urine and what is essentially a bag filled with items stuck to a squirrel’s scrotum is beyond me.  I’m not sure how they even function let alone progress to 5pm each day. Furthermore not only is this simply wrong, but it also means that noone makes ME tea!

Being a traditional PG, Yorkshire or Tetley’s man for as long as I can remember my tea consumption has shown unparalleled growth directly relating to the amount of time spent at my desk. Whilst in Local Authority I’d progressed to a hearty six to ten cups a day as each colleague in turn found the urge to meander around the office and take some time out under the auspicious label of “making a brew”. Personally it was almost as though each cup could be my last as tepid leftovers, often full cups, were downed in delightful glee at the prospect of a fresh cup and with it an excuse to raid the biscuit tin of course!

Now I’m left to a few, solitary trips a day leaving me high and quite literally dry for the majority. After a few weeks, I have decided I might see what I’ve been missing so I have dipped my toe cautiously (and very briefly) into the flowerly world of “health” tea. The experience is one that I wanted to share.

After perusing the options I opted for a white tea with elderflower and apricot. By all accounts it was created for my skin - perhaps I’d have been better saving it for the shower. I felt deceived - the smell, good but taste wise I think I’d rather suck a cat. A bitter flavour followed by an after taste that I can only associate to my one effort at wake-boarding. Well, the two freezing, exhausting hours I spent swimming in and drinking the River Trent. I’ve checked since. My skin looks the same. Feels the same. Not only that but the experience has left me irritable and confused about the whole thing!

I’ll hold my hand up and admit that my colleagues have since pointed out that the milk and sugar were unnecessary additions to the brew. Still I am neither convinced nor converted and have come to a conclusion. I wouldn’t ditch my regular cuppa for all the tea in China.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Socks are Bread


Two days back at work and what little enthusiasm that there was yesterday has now dried up like a Northern Irishman’s shower. Fortunately our systems went down so we could all end the pretence of actually doing some work and concentrate on “the big catch up”. How was Christmas? What did you do for New Years? Yes, didn’t we all eat ourselves to death and of course that new scarf, hat, jumper or necklace looks great. The chances are it doesn’t but what can you do? An office of myself and three middle-aged women is no place for honesty. What am I going to say? Spent the holidays drinking, eating more chocolate than Nigella on a self-loathing trip, playing video games and masturbating my way through a lonely New Year’s Eve, what about you?

We finally came on to a conversation of interest. What was the crappest Christmas present that you got? Now this may seem shallow since all, well most, gifts are given with thought and earnest good will. But somehow, each year, someone we know will just get it wrong. In our office one woman was given a notebook, address book and diary without dates written in which was immediately issued to her 4 year old to doodle in at her whim. I must admit this colleague isn’t the sharpest tool in the box (she has the cutting precision of a ladle in fact) so she may well be surprised in time that the notebook has dates on each page. Still I want to put forward a contender for crappest Christmas present and it was a controversial one in the office at least. Socks.

My Aunt is an incredibly generous soul. A quirky character but an old school matriarchal one, albeit without children of her own. But I need to stress I’m not talking the mandatory Christmas socks that are a necessity during the yuletide period. I’m talking black sports socks. I am a fully grown adult. No matter how hard I try to ignore the fact or act otherwise I have reached a level of self sustainability that means I can fend for myself. This, novelty additions aside, means that socks are for all intent and purpose bread. When I need bread I can buy bread. When I need socks I can buy socks.


Surely better than socks
Socks didn’t win the debate in the office. In fact neither did the books. That prize was taken, without the owner’s knowledge, by a luminous green plastic hedgehog thing from a local art gallery (pictured) that we have since found out is a cheese grater! But, ever the sore loser, I’d just make a plea to anyone that whenever you are looking for a treat or gift for that someone special, before making the purchase, remember. Socks are bread.