Saturday, July 31, 2004

This Is The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life

I'm making breakfast for someone else this morning.

As the world moves further into the world of Orwell's Big Brother (with compulsory ID cards, CCTV cameras on every corner and so on) I can see one benefit. Presumably, at some point, laws will be written that control every aspect of our lives. This will mean that people will find themselves having to adhere to standards laid down by government.

This, in turn, means that whichever house I find myself waking up in, I'll be able to find the cutlery drawer in the kitchen.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Outlook A-Go-Go

I'd totally forgotten I'd set this reminder. I think I did it after the Decree Nisi.

As if I was going to forget. Tch.

I also tore off the latest page in my desk calendar and noted that Ben Schott has elected to make July 30 the day when he's going to list some Dating Abbreviations. How did the guy know? Has he been talking to my lawyers? Does he read this journal?

Or is it just a slightly spooky coincidence?

According to these abbreviations I am DWM, ANI, GRO, NS, WTT, DTE, SD. Modesty forbids me including VGL.

First born comes back on Tuesday. I'm really, really looking forward to seeing her. More so than the weekend.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Haircut 100

Weren't the 80s great? Hands up all those who remember Nick Heyward?

Another week and another haircut. Because this is THE weekend. As of tomorrow lunchtime I will genuinely be Newly Single (as opposed to the current Almost Newly Single.)

And yeah, I have a date tomorrow. And again on Saturday. And the hairdresser is wondering if I'd like to go see a film on Sunday night. Gotta love a woman who says "I'd prefer Spiderman 2 or Shrek 2. Go for Shrek, and I'll buy the beers"

If the journal entries aren't so prolific over the weekend. Well. You'll know the reason why. I believe the Americans have a system that works on 'bases' a-la baseball to indicate how the date went. I don't understand baseball (I went to a game once - couldn't work out what was going on, but loved the atmosphere.)

Since we in England have an equally long, dull and incomprehensible game in the form of cricket, maybe some cricket terms could be used to indicate the result of the date. Here's a list. Suggestions as to their meanings are welcome.

"Maiden Over"
"Sticky Wicket"
"Bowled A Googly"
"Out For A Duck"
"Leg Glance"
"Full Toss"

Sage advice from my father after the hairdresser left:

"Son, she's a family friend. Don't crap on your own doorstep"

And regarding life after tomorrow:

"Never tell them your real name"

Thanks, Dad.

Duck And Cover

Off topic.

In keeping with the paranoia that seems to be abound, the UK government has put up a 'granny/suck eggs' on preparing for a terrorist attack.

They registered the version of the site, but sadly forgot about the

Oh deary, deary me...

HM Government
HM Department Of Vague Paranoia

Perception Of Speed

More thoughts on Torque.

Its a prime example of that particular breed of US movies, where the frantic pace on screen is disproportionate to the speed being shown on the instrumentation.

For example, there is a chase sequence. Lots of shots of strained faces in helmets. Cut to a speedometer - the needle is creeping around to 80 miles an hour, to 85, to 90...


If they were having a similar race on the roads over here, they would have been overtaken by my grandmother in her ancient Astra. And she's dead.

It seems that the older and more battered the vehicle is over here, the faster it goes. The fastest vehicle on earth is not made by Ferrari, Porsche or BMW. Nope. Its made by General Motors.

I give you - the Vauxhall AstraMax van. No matter what you're driving. No matter how fast you're going, one of these will be on your tail, flashing its lights and trying to overtake. On the dashboard will be a copy of The Mirror, or The Sun or (and this is a sign of a true performance driver) The Daily Sport. There will also be enough sandwich wrappers to fill a moderate sized landfill.

They don't allow these vehicles in Formula 1 or Nascar because it just wouldn't be fair.

Time to go to work...

(this post is brought to you by the 'my car comes back from the paint-shop department today - hurrah!')

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

1 Angry Member Of The Public Chose D

You have a phone. You know only three people know the number.

During a meal, the phone rings. It is none of the three people, it is a telemarketer trying to sell replacement doors and windows for your house.

Do you:

a) Put the phone down.

b) Politely decline the offer and put the phone down.

c) Say something witty like "Ok, give me your home number, and I'll phone you at your home at a time convenient to me and we'll discuss it"

d) Launch into a Mister Angry rant about how you haven't actually got a house, am not likely to have a house in the near future because of the injustice of life, how did they get this number and did their mother have carnal relations with a donkey in order to produce such a colossal ass? Then feel guilty and give them The Ex's number, assuring them that she would be overjoyed to hear about new windows and doors.

In my defence, I am still a little upset about the whole apartment thing. My father and aunt gave me a round of applause when I returned to the table.

Old Time Music Hall Great

We all wear masks. So people don't know who we really are. We all have alter-egos, characters we bring out at parties, at interviews or in the workplace.

Or is it just me?

I was enjoying a lunchtime beer with a guy I've worked with in one job or another for the past 10 years and been friends for the 10 years before that. We were going through the events of the last three or four months. He shook his head, laughed, and said "I never thought I'd see the return of The Great Self-Destructo"

The Great Self-Destructo is the person I turn into when, say, I hate my job. Or hate my school. Or I'm depressed. Or I'm bored.

The Great Self-Destructo is a character along the lines of Houdini, with the exception that he doesn't want to escape. He just wants more locks put on the box, more man-eating fish in the tank and more pointy nails on the bed. He'd play Russian Roulette with only one empty chamber. And maybe not even that.

I'd thought I'd put him away for good when I'd got married and became Responsible. However, it seems that to someone on the outside looking in, this man of mystery is making a comeback in the form of my determined pursuit of debauchery.

If he is, perhaps I should put him back in the box. Him and his friend "Captain No-Consequences".

After Prague. He's a lot of fun to be around.

Holiday Ro-oh-oh-oh-oad (Part 3)


Prague's booked.

Wanna come? I'll be at the Hotel Elite the weekend after next.

I'll be the guy asleep in a puddle of beer with a silly grin on his face.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


First off, for the record, I am missing First-born terribly. I dropped her off at the airport exactly a week ago today, and she won't be back until a week today.

One day she'll read all this stuff. So. I miss you. Lots.

I can't say it to her on the phone, because she's having a whale of a time by the sounds of things. And as I've said before, this is my diary.

But moving on. My father is unsurprisingly pretty unsupportive of the whole self-build thing. He's a very carefull fellow, and I respect him enormously. But in this instance... well... I figure I need to take life by the balls and make something happen.

The Uncle (with whom I've just quaffed far too much beer; starting with Fullers Chiswick and moving unwisely onto Youngs Special) looked at my options:

1) Buy a nastier apartment instead
2) Wait for some land to become available and build a place
3) Say 'fuck it' and move to Europe/Canada and invest in a skiing chalet
4) Buy a boat and live on that
5) Forget buying a house, and buy a ticket to ride on SpaceShip 1

He put his pint glass down. Took my hand. Looked me straight in the eye and said "If you look like you're going to go on that rocket, I'll break your legs"

Thanks. I think.

(for the record, he though buying a boat and dropping out of the rat-race was a better bet)

Carpentry 101

Ok. Here's the deal.

The last pipe-dream (apartment, jacuzzi, etc) disappeared in a puff of estate agents fees last week, so I need another to replace it.

I was sitting in the pub (unusual, I know, but I take by the hind legs and sell it to a Welsh farmer. I'm that kind of guy) and bemoaning the whole thing to my boss, who also happens to be a good friend.

If he had a beard, he would have tugged at it. Instead he sipped his beer, raised an eyebrow and said "Have you ever thought of Self Build?"

I snorted "Oh yeah. I've seen Grand Designs. It costs a fortune, it always goes wrong, and you end up with a TV crew on hand to film the toilet falling to pieces. While its being used."

"No, really" he said, "You don't need to buy anywhere right now, do you? There's a firm that build old-style barns for 90,000 pounds all in for a 2 or 3 bedroom affair. All we'd need to do is get some land. It'd work out much cheaper than that apartment"


He looked a little shamefaced and said "I've been thinking of doing something similar for years. The problem is the cost of land - but together we'd have enough to get a large plot; large enough for two properties and plenty of space between."

He gave me some paperwork last night and said "Think about it"

Well, would you?

The photos in the paperwork were beautiful. I have to live in one of these places. And call in some favours from a relative who works in the local planning office.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new pipe-dream.


Conversation with a friend just now. She said "Well, you drink far more than me anyway."

Naturally, I was about to protest. Then I remembered this little gem from Saturday night. My tower of Heineken empties, constructed over the course of the evening.

I like those little keg shaped cans. They make one feel like a giant:

"I am Gulliver! Bring me beer, tiny Lilliputian people! And Pizza."

And this, friends, is why picking films based on their badness is like playing with fire.

Where Now For Man Raised By Puffins?

...ok, so Torque wasn't the only film watched. To soothe eyes almost put out by the sheer awfulness of that film, someone produced a copy of The Day Today, a spoof news show I'd almost entirely forgotten about.

Run, don't walk, to your local video store and grab a copy. Just for the menus, if nothing else.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Something To Torque About

That was an awful pun, wasn't it?

After the 2 Fast 2 Furious incident, you would have thought a lesson would have been learnt. A life experience filed away for future reference. A box ticked on the great questionnaire of life.

But no. On Saturday night I went to a friend's house for an evening of beer and talking twaddle. And watching a film. The film was Torque. It chose itself simply by the sheer awfulness of the front cover.

I can imagine how the film came about. A bunch of studio execs, sitting in a boardroom. Probably feeling tired and emotional after a session in the bathroom with some white powder.

One says: "That 'Fast And Furious' did well. Lets do one of those, except with motorcycles"

Another says: "Will there be breasts?"

"Oh yes. Many scantily clad breasts. Buttocks too. And gratuitous wet bikini shots that serve no purpose in moving the story aong other than making the mostly male adolescent audience spill their, er, pop-corn with excitement"

"We'd better get our best scriptwriters on this!"

"Nah, lets spend the money on cocaine and use this idea I wrote on the back of a cigarette packet instead"

So the story goes thus:

Lots of men shout at each other and fight. Stuff blows up. Everyone dies apart from the hero, his girlfriend and his friend (unsurprisingly played by Ice Cube, who is starting to surpass Jeff Fahey in the "the film's gonna bad if he's in it" stakes.) The final fight sequence and motor-cycle chase make it worth sticking with the film (or at least hitting the 'skip' button a few times.) I dare anyone not say "StreetHawk" (and then feel a bit embarrassed for knowing the reference) when the Hero and Bad Guy press the 'Fast' button on their bikes.

Oh, and the girl-on-girl-fight-on-motorbikes segment (sponsored by Pepsi) is essential viewing. Particularly with the director's commentary: "Yeah, we only had a short stage for this, but we used some clever filmwork to make it seem longer, so I don't think anyone noticed." Oh, we noticed mate. We noticed...

The Curious Incident Of The Scrap Of Paper In The Night

So, the Friday.

The evening kicked off in the same way as many have before. Staggering into our usual 'start' pub, slightly worse the wear following a typical Friday lunchtime (fortunately, the creeping US Corporatisation of our little company hasn't spread to Friday lunchtimes. Not yet, at any rate.)

A friend who has just set up home with his first long-term girlfriend drunkenly offered advice:

"Mate, you don't wanna do what I did. Playing the field and all that..."

(Er, yes. I think I probaby do)

"Nah, nah, it just leaves you empty. Empty and lonely. I've been there, mate. Been there, you know? Different girl every night..."

(Still sounding a valid plan to me. I'm empty and lonely already. Empty and lonely with company of an evening? I'll go for that)

"Cos you're a great bloke, and you might lose yourself. You do. You forget who you are... I mean, look at me..."

He fell over at around that point.

I also had a bit of a Lemonesque epiphany. I've got a really poor self-image - when I hit the bars with mates, I always regard myself as 'the fat friend'. While buying a round of drinks, I caught sight of myself in the mirror behind the bar and thought "Heck, you look ok. I'd fancy you, if I was a girl. A fairly desperate girl with bad eyesight admittedly..." (my psyche can't resist the odd jibe, even when in cheerleading mode)

However, I did return to the table with confidence boosted.

A truly awful curry was partially consumed, more drinks were had, brandy and tequila were poured down throats in equal measure and at closing time we went our seperate ways. Me back to a solitary existance in a hotel room.

Of course, my evening didn't end there. On my way back, I pottered past a restaurant I used to go to with The Ex and First-born quite regularly. The place was closed, and through the window you could see the staff playing cards and enjoying a pre-going home bottle of wine. I know the chef quite well (in my other life as 'person who knows about computers' I set some things up for him) and one of the waitresses always served us (she likes First-born.) It was the waitress who waved. I waved back. She came to the door and said "Hello! We haven't seen you for ages! (the chef) wants to buy you a drink for fixing his computer - do you want to come in?"

So in I went. As they dealt me in, I had to explain why I'd not been in for the last few months. A plate of fresh garlic bread appeared from nowhere and a glass was pressed into my hand, and so I spent a few happy hours losing at cards, exchanging jokes and banter. As the chef locked up and began to walk away, the waitress paused and called after him: "I'll catch up, ok?"

She turned to me and said: "Hey look, I'm really sorry about what's happened. And I really respect what you're trying to do. But, you know, if you want to hook up sometime, call me. Yeah?"

Maybe it was the alcohol. Maybe I was still feeling the euphoric effects of a good evening. But I kissed her.

Her hand snaked inside my jacket, another went to the back of my head. And she kissed me back. With feeling.

She pulled away and pressed a piece of paper into my hand: "Gotta go. My lift's waiting. Call me. Ok?"

As the tail-lights dwindled in the distance, I looked at the paper, half expecting to find a punchline to a joke. Instead, there was a mobile number and a message: "Call me!"

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Wanna Play?

Spoof is a bad game, and I cannot advise playing it.  So shoo.  Your liver will thank you.

Still here?

Ok, here's the deal.  You need a forfeit drink and three coins per person.  The drink (which can be anything) is placed in the centre of the table.  Each person puts between zero and three coins in their hand and hold their hand over the table so no-one can see what they have.  You then go around the table, with each person trying to guess how many coins there are in total.  Whoever guesses the correct amount is out, and the game starts again.

The last person remaining has to drink the drink.  Then they have to buy the next drink.  And s0 it goes on.

Oh, and anyone caught gloating (for example, putting a fist in the air and saying "Yay!" when they're out) has to drink the drink.

Once one starts losing, one soon finds oneself on a bit of a losing streak.  And of course, when one loses, one tries to get one's revenge by inventing the most horrendous drink possible.

I found myself chewing my through a concoction of Baileys, Tequila, Vodka, Pernod and Bacardi (where the Baileys had curdled into something the consistancy of putty in the base of the glass.)

No pictures, I'm afraid.  I was too busy concentrating on holding down my curry.

Friday, July 23, 2004


I can't post the rules of Spoof tonight.  I won too often.  Or lost.  Either way, tequila is coursing through my veins, racing with vodka to find that last remaining brain cell.

Many firsts tonight:

First non-peck-on-the-cheek kiss other than The Ex in the last 15 years

First, er, 'snuggling' session (as above)

First phone number collected

First trip over one's own feet in front of lady described above

A good night.  More to say, but I have to sleep.  Tragically, I have to work tomorrow.  And yes, I'm still being good.  Sort of.  A mere 7 days to go now...

Cruelty To Animals

Aside from the amount of road-kill under my tyres, and my antipathy to elderly and incontinent cats, I like to think I'm fairly mellow about the other, non-human, inhabitants of this planet.

Those that inhabit England, at least.

But I hate wasps.  They seem to be a pointless creature.  Someone explain to me the reason for wasps?  (aside from being generally evil.)

During a particularly liquid lunch today, I demonstrated my knack for capturing the little so and sos in a beer glass and drowning them in the dregs (well, at least they die happy.) 

A friend demonstrated his method: letting them land on his hand and flicking them at walls. 

I was suitably impressed.

Tonight will be a good night.  A large crowd of boys and girls, a curry, and a game of Spoof.  Life doesn't get better.  I  may do a drunken update at around 12...

Career Advice

My memory is really bad.  It goes back about 18 years and then gets really hazy.  Possibly the result of all the brain cells I've been killing of late.

However, I do remember careers advice given by the headmaster of the catholic junior school I went to when I was 8.  It was this: "Study hard, or you'll end up sweeping the streets"

So I did.  I'm paid more than I ever dreamt was possible.  I  get to make other people's lives difficult on a regular basis.  I even have an office with a window and a choice of decoration.

Sometimes I never actually see the sun.

The street sweepers and dustmen, however, work outdoors in the sun.  They laugh and joke as they walk along the streets.  They make a difference to people's lives and, to be honest, we'd be screwed if they weren't there.

Yeah, who was smarter?

SMS a-go-go

I envy other people's lives.  I get two types of text messages on my phone; "We're in the pub, where are you?" and "You may have already won a million pounds, reply to this text for more information"

Other people's are far more interesting.

Text a friend received out of the blue from his mother this morning:

"Gone to Vietnam.  Please check I've not left the grill on"

Thursday, July 22, 2004

That Explains It

I've realised why my mood has been so black of late. 

This Saturday is my last as a married person.

It is also my 11th wedding anniversary.

Yeah, that would be it.  A friend has suggested going climbing, getting drunk and getting stoned as a way of marking the event.

I say "Way wait until Saturday?"

What Are You Looking At?

We have a new receptionist.  She is working here during her vacation.  She is wearing a tight t-shirt with the word 'LOOK' emblazoned across her chest in spangly sequins.  So I have.

I've never known the computer support guys to be quite so helpful.  The poor woman has a veritable swarm of them around her, plugging and unplugging cables, installing software, adjusting screens and offering a selection of ergonomically sound keyboards.

I'm tempted to buy myself a pair of comedy breasts and don a blonde wig in order to get similar service, although I think the drool on the floor around the desk might start to get irritating after a while.

Drove past the apartment I was trying to buy.  The builders put it back on the market on Monday.  It was sold today to a cash buyer.  You win some, you lose some.  Except I seem to be doing more than my fair share of losing.

I'll have a chat with my friend Beer tonight.  He understands.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Goodnight Mr Keats

No, my brain didn't get eaten.

But a chat with a friend tonight reminded me of college, and the patented Newly pick-up technique.  Basically, it consisted of poetry and flowers.  Not my poems - I majored in English Literature and could 'borrow' other peoples'

Keats was always a good one. 

I dusted off an old book of his poetry that I salvaged from the house of oddness and found a favourite of mine:

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

Thank you, Mr Keats.  So sad you died so young.

I also wrote poetry.  Pages and pages while I was courting The Ex.  All of it bad and buttock clenchingly embarassing to look at now.

I burnt it when I moved out of the house of oddness.

Ok, So Sometimes It Can Go Wrong

Long time readers may recall my habit of selecting films on the basis of how bad it is (witness the whole Bad Boys II incident), and also that this approach can sometimes blow up in one's face (2 Fast 2 Furious) when a film is so bad it ceases to even amuse a chap who is worse the wear for beer.

I guess it was inevitable that my approach to selecting resumes would have a similar outcome. 

We have a guy in for interview, based on the fact that he worked on a system called "Flange" which, as I'm sure you'll agree, sounds a bit rude.  We were looking forward to asking lots of Flange-related questions.  I'll leave their content to your imagination.

Unfortunately, the guy looks like Lurch from The Addams Family.  So now I'm fighting the urge to ask "So how long have you been a member of the undead?"   Mainly because I'm afraid of the answer.

If there's no post tonight it'll be because my brain has been eaten.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

From The Department Of Prevarication

I'm recruiting some people for my team.  After wading through dozens of absolutely identical resumes I've begun to select people for interview based on the following criteria:
* Do they list "going to the pub" as a hobby? (if teetotal, do they list "driving other people to the pub" as a hobby?)
* Does their name rhyme with, or (better still) sound like a rude word?
* Have they done something unusual?
So, a chap called Willie McPhuckerson who spent his formative years on a unicycle juggling sharks in between trips to the pub to buy his friends beer would be a sure hire.
Hey - it beats my usual method when faced with this dilemma.  Cover the wall with the resumes and throw three darts while blindfolded.  It was doing that that led to me needing to hire more people in the first place.  Using a harpoon instead of a dart was possibly not a good idea.

Child Proof Phones

Ok, so I drank rather too much last night.  I wasn't drinking alone.  I had the very excellent Bix Beiderbecke to keep me company.
I had the presence of mind to set the alarm on my phone early on, and so was woken at 0430 by the phone cycling through all its ringtones, getting progressively louder until either turned off, or thrown at the wall.  Yeah, thats going to be tricky to explain to the hardware guys at work:
"I need a new phone.  Mine has, er, stopped working."
"Thats ok, we can send your's back to repair"
"Er..." (shakes a bag, and bits of shattered plastic drop folornly onto the table) "...I don't really think thats an option"
"It wasn't me! Really, it wasn't!  It was, er, an elephant.  Yeah!  Stampeding!  It needed the bathroom (believe me, you don't want to see what happens when an elephant doesn't make it to the bathroom) and stepped on my phone.  Twice.  Three times.  Which is why its, er, er..."
"So can I have a new phone?"
But why so early?  Being amicable, I offered to give The Ex, The Boyfriend and First-born a lift to the airport (a poor excuse to get a final hug from First-born before she leaves for the land of pasta, but there you go.)  So I blearily headed over to the House Of Oddness, drove them to the airport in the Car Of Oddness.
And when I got back, I found my car squatting in a "My tyres are flat.  And they're new.  Which means the alloys are probably bent from that accident a couple of weeks ago" kind of way.
So off it went to the garage where I'll adopt my usual way of getting it fixed.  Basically, giving money to a mechanic until he either expires under the load of used 10 pound notes or gets on with the work.
I cheered myself with a large, steaming bacon sandwich.  In about half an hour I'll hate myself for eating it.
How's your day?

Monday, July 19, 2004

This Is A Low (2)

This is my diary. 
This came in the post today:
"To Dad,
Please can you keep sending me letters?  It is because these days I hardly get any letters.  Nan is going to write to me too!  So you and her are special people.  I want to fill this page up with words.  Thanks for taking me to Disney - I really enjoyed it.  LOOK!  I have nearly done a whole page!  Isn't it great?  Yes it is!  Yippee!  I still have space for a few more words - I love you very much.  Love from (First-born) XXX"
Tomorrow she goes to Italy and I won't see her for almost three weeks. 
Very low tonight.
(thank you Mr. Postman for delivering the letter, even though she'd forgotten any stamps)

The Last Word

This is the last post on the topic of EuroDisney.  In fact, the next time I utter the 'D' word, it'll be in relation to plans to take First-born to the Florida incarnation.

I've been trying to imagine the conversation that must have gone on at the House Of Mouse 20 years ago.

Suit1: "Guys, the Florida park is getting lots of European interest.  I think we should consider building a new park over there"
Suit2: "Excellent idea.  The only question is where?"
Suit3: "How about Britain?  They love the whole US thing - God knows they keep watching the terrible films we churn out"
Suit4: "Nah, it rains all the time.  How about Spain?  Great weather over there, and thats where the Brits and Germans already spend their summers"
Suit5: "Forget that.  Lets put it in France.  After all, the French love us, don't they?  Remember how they tried to solve the heating problems at McDonalds by setting fire to the restaurants?  I'm sure they'd love an American cultural icon right next to their capital city..."

And so the decision was taken.  Fast forward 15 years.

Suit1: "Its a disaster!  The French hate us!  They all prefer 'Asterix World' which is up the road.  It rains ALL THE TIME and we had to do all the shows and signs in French, so no-one can work out whats going on!  The staff are permanently on strike and worst of all, the only Tinkerbell we could find looks like a Hungarian shotputter."
Suit2: "Dammit!  Who's stupid idea was it to put the park in France?"
Suit3: (cough)
Suit4: (shuffle)
Suit5: "Ok... it was me.  But thats ok - you thought I was just another faceless executive, but no!  I'm (insert generic TV presenter name here) and you're  on Candid Camera!"
All: (embarrassed laughter)
Suit1: (sotto voice) "So... Do you think Fox are hiring?"

The problem with EuroDisney is typified by the Winnie The Pooh show, where Pooh speaks English, Tigger (or Tigre) speaks French and Eeyore sounds like a drunken French tramp.  The net result is that nobody knows what is going on, except that a man in a furry orange suit has clearly had too much caffeine.

Next year, Florida. 

Sunday, July 18, 2004


This is the first in an occasional series of snippets of conversation with The Ex.  This journal is, after all, my diary.  These things need to be noted.
Like many guys,  I snore.  Particularly if I've been drinking or am overweight.  Both at the same time is a recipe for disaster.   And since being dumped, I've been drinking and piling on the pounds.
Since I was going to spend a week sharing a room with First-born, I figured that I'd have to deal with the snoring thing.  A friend recommended a herbal thing that has a taste not unlike drinking the contents of an aromatherapy set.  And according to First-born, it worked.  The Ex heard about it:
She: "First-born tells me you've got this funny anti-snoring stuff"
Me: "Yep"
She: "Could I borrow it to try?  The Boyfriend snores terribly and keeps me awake at night"
Me: (internal) "You have to be kidding me.  I hope he makes your ears bleed"
Me: (external) "Oh, I'm sorry.  I think I mislaid it."
She: "Tch.  Can you remember what it was called?"
Me: (internal) "Yeah, it was an ice-pick.  Stick it up his nose, Sharon Stone style"
Me: (external) "Oh, I think it was called 'Deep Heat' or something.  You'll find it in the athletic injury section"
She: "Thanks!  I'll get some tonight"
My external side wasn't as nice as it appears.  For those that don't know, Deep Heat is a treatment for strained muscles.  I was at stag party where the unfortunate groom has his manhood smeared in the stuff.  I don't think I've ever heard anyone scream so loudly.
Well, up until the noise The Boyfriend makes when The Ex sticks it up his nose.
By the way, this is the second to last Sunday of my marriage.

Mind Reading

I'm a little disorientated.  After spending the day in the office trying not to be sick over the keyboard (diced carrots and brushed steel are just *so* last century, dahling) the boss took me out for a beer.
He steepled his fingers and just when I was wondering if he was about to:
a) Ask me about my internet usage
b) Ask me about the odd colour I turned when he suggested getting a curry in for lunch
c) Ask me for a date
He said "There isn't much reason for you to work here anymore, is there?"
Me: ?
He: "When you joined, you gave up a well-paying job in London to work nearer your family"
(this is a true thing, when First-born appeared, I dropped out of the rat race and got a job less than 5 minutes from my door)
He: "And you don't have that anchor anymore.  So I expect you're considering your options"
The guy must be a mind-reader.  I concentrated on thinking about girls - best defence against mind reading aliens, or so I'm told.
He: "You're a key part of the company.  I'd like you to think about what it would take to make you stay with us and talk to me and the Managing Director tomorrow.  What do you say?"
Me: "Er... another drink?"
I'd only been having the Big Quitting Thoughts while in EuroDisney.  Does the guy have my room bugged too?  Were the attractive students standing around me and my friend last night actually secret agents, eavesdropping on my drunken explanation of sailing around the world?
Or is it just that my boss is a perceptive guy, as well as a good friend?  Even if I detest his elderly cat.
Oh, and he also casually dropped this into conversation:
"And my wife was wondering if you'd got yourself laid yet"
Yes, I passed beer through my nose.  Both nostrils.


Its that morning after feeling.  I'm sitting very, very still, hoping against hope that the threatening sensation in my stomach is not about to reveal what I ate and drank last night in glorious technicolour detail.
I'm also trying to motivate myself to write a document for work that I've been putting off for the last 2 weeks.  However, I really can't be arsed at the moment.  There are more important things to do.  Like picking my nose or trying not to throw up.
The film was Spiderman 2.  Not as bad as Van Helsing, but I'd recommend sloping off to the bar for the middle 45 minutes in order to miss the bit where the film jerkily transitions from its action roots into some sort of teen angst movie before the director realises he's been directing from the wrong script and picks up the one marked "blow stuff up".
(incidentally, the advert for the Orange mobile phone company at the start was better than some films I've seen recently.)
And then, of course, beer was taken.  Women were leered at (in a progressively more unsubtle manner as more beer was consumed) and they leered back.  Bars were visited.  I have a memory of drinking something pink, and also of collecting a curry on the way back.  No recollection of actually eating it, but judging by the distressing sensations this morning, I presume I did.
I'm going to eat a couple of oranges for breakfast.  I understand they taste the same coming up as they do going down.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

And Then Depression Set In

I made the phone call to the builders today.  On Monday I have to go in and sign the cancellation forms and collect my deposit.  Unless something really unexpected happens between now and then.
First-born also goes off to Italy for two-and-a-bit weeks on Tuesday.   So yesterday was the last time I'll see her for the best part of three weeks.
And to cap it all off, I've made a rather foolish bet with a friend about not drinking beer for a month starting from Monday.  Best get back into practising my cocktail making...
Yeah.  I'm glum today.
Positive things:
* I'm going out tonight.  Going to see a film (hopefully not as heart-stoppingly dreadful as Van Helsing) and then go to something called a nightclub.  I'll be dusting off my rusty flirting skills...
* Today is the second to last Saturday of my marriage.  Not sure if thats a good or bad thing at the moment.
* I can still drink beer today and tomorrow, so I'd best make sure the tanks are topped up.  And then get some champagne in because...
* ...I have the house to myself next week.  I intend to carouse around it, stark naked, quaffing champagne from the bottle.  With luck, the Newly Show will give the old lady across the road who spends her days staring at the house a treat.  Or a stroke.  One of the two.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Evil Eye! Evil Eye!

Feel the evil of the Small World ride. Now I know what happened to all those left-over Chucky dolls from Child's Play.

So we're back. Our arrival back in England was announced by a cacophony of chirping mobile phones on the Eurostar as we emerged from the tunnel. Traveling for pleasure never fails to amaze me - I can get on a train in London and step out in Paris. These things we take for granted too easily.

Yeah, with the falling through of the apartment I've been thinking about travel a lot of late. I mean, if you had £100k and no commitments, what would you do? Buy a house? Start a family? Been there, done that, got the Decree Nisi. So now I'm thinking about going places and seeing stuff.

My cousin, Ian Dickens, has played no small part in this. I've been reading his book Sea Change in EuroDisney while First-born slept. I love well written travelogues, and his struck a particular chord. Pay £23k, join a similar minded crew on an ocean-going yacht and take part in a year-long round-the-world race. No experience required.

Tempting. I wonder if there's an option for doing something similar, except without the hardships and face scoured by salt-water?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Goodnight Paris

So this is the last night.

First-born and I stood on Main Street USA and watched the fireworks light up the sky behind the castle.

I've got lots more to say about this place.

I don't believe in much beyond myself and First-born, but if there is a higher power tinkering with destinies - thank you for letting me have this week.

Thank you.

Goodnight, Paris.

Oh No!

Nobody told me that The Ex was coming to EuroDisney too!

(Couldn't resist it. Allow me my bitter and twisted moments too, ok?)


First-born has an interesting approach to the inevitable long queues in this place. She reads and shuffles along. I then get a chance to chat to women who say "Oh, isn't she just adorable?" I'm still struggling with the bit between that and "Would you like to sleep with me?" Give me time, I'll work it out in the end.

Based on this experience, I'm going to write a short story, or maybe a play. I'm going to call it "Big Thunder Jones" It'll be a black comedy about a guy called "Big Thunder Jones" who grows up in the Welsh valleys convinced he's of Native American descent and goes off in search of his ancestors. Fish-out-of-water type hilarity ensues until he finds his true parents and discovers that his name come from his place of conception; the queue for Big Thunder Mountain at EuroDisney. You'd be amazed how dull these queues can be...

He then goes home and lives happily ever after.

Reckon Adam Sandler would be interested?

Rehabilitation For Robots

I think this place is around 10 years old, and it already has its fair share of non-working robots. Particularly impressive is Small World. We've been on that ride 8 times now (enough for me to want to hunt down the writer of the tune and dump him or her head first into a bucket of donkey faeces.)

If you've never experienced the joy of this ride then I'll describe it... imagine hundreds upon hundreds of singing dolls, garbed in the national dress of various countries and surrounded by scenery of impressively low production values. Most of the dolls are animated in some way - twitching in time to to the music while unseeing eyes stare malevolently over the unfortunate souls trapped in their boats because the ride has stalled again.

The last scene of the ride is very pink and very sparkly. Hence the 8 times.

However, as with most of the rides, various bits don't work. And when you have so many robots, the effect is quite pronounced. Most look like unfortunate stroke victims who should be in physiotherapy rather than attempting the can-can. Or perhaps the spasmodic twitching, and failure of limbs to function is a result of having to listen to That Tune for the last 10 years. God knows, I've heard it 8 times and my legs stop working and eye starts twitching when first born suggests going on it again (as she has done just now...)

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Real Women

There are some things I really like about EuroDisney. One is the whole approach to women.

Now its been a few years since I went to Florida, but my main memory of the characters is that whenever a woman had to appear in, say, the Tinkerbell costume, she'd be a waiflike creature.

Not so here. Oh no.

EuroTinkerbell can best be described as, er, the opposite (insert suitable descriptive phrase here - along the lines of 'stacked', 'well built' and 'thank you God for making me attracted to women and so able to appreciate such wondrous things')

No boyish figures here, just plenty of curves; enough to leave the jaws of the male members of the audience hanging open while the fairy in question flies up to the top of the castle.

The same goes for the rest of the characters. Belle (from Beauty And The Beast) looked as though she could snap The Beast in two, and as for the female character in The Tarzan Encounter. Gosh. I'm trying to persuade First-born that we should watch the show again.

...of course, it can go wrong too. One of the fairies on the electric parade looked like she'd spent the last year matching me beer for beer, while she struggled along under the combined weight of a ghostbuster-esque battery pack and wings festooned with lightbulbs. Her approach to the audience was a typical of many of the characters:

"Hey, yeah, I'm a fairy. Look at me dance. I spent 5 years studying dance in Paris, you know. I hate you all."

More on that later...

(Yeah - I made the Edit. Thank you, commenting people. And emailing people. That was not a good phrase to use. Even First-born was aghast: "You said *what* ?")

Monday, July 12, 2004

You Want Me To Eat What?

We eat in the hotel restaurants. For three reasons:

Firstly, the Disney characters wander around the tables, signing autographs and posing for photographs. I have a 7 year-old daughter who'd sulk for several decades if she failed to get Mickey's signature.

Secondly, I'm going for the 'money no object' route. One benefit of the apartment falling through is that I get a few more mortgage-free months. So I'm gonna spend it. Yay!

Thirdly, the food is actually pretty good! Compared to the slop served up in the park itself, the places in the hotel are really good.

However, First-born refused to eat anything. She's approaching vegetarianism from an interesting angle. Having visited a farm with the school, she announced that eating animals was wrong. However, she hasn't worked out where fish-fingers come from (one could argue that she's ok there; I doubt fish are involved in the manufacturing process, aside from waving an old bit of haddock over the boxes.)

The reason why she refused was to do with the smiley-face potato shapes that appeared on her children's meal.

"What's wrong?" I asked, "There's no meat - just cheese, pasta and potatoes"
"I couldn't possibly eat that" she sniffed, "I don't do anthropomorphic food"

I had to look up the word later on the web to make sure it meant what I thought it went.

When we get home, I'm hiding the dictionary. Its not healthy bedtime reading.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

When She Loved Me

Lately, films have started to affect me. Not all films, just certain ones.

The latest is Toy Story 2. First-born and I watched it last night on the laptop at the hotel before she turned in for the night. And after a hard day's fun at EuroDisney, she discovered that the hotel features the Disney channel (obviously) and they were showing Toy Story 2 again. So we watched it. Again.

For those who haven't had the pleasure, there's a section in the film where a toy sings a sad little song about being discarded as her owner grows up. Ordinarily, I'd airily wave this aside as targetted schmaltz.

But this time I sat, with First-born leaning on me, and tears streamed down my face.

First-born looked up and asked: "Why are you crying, Dad?"

I wanted to reply: "Because I'm worried that now you don't see so much of me, you're going to grow up and away from me, and I'm going to miss all those moments that we would have shared and now won't, and you won't need me anymore, and I'll be like that toy under the bed"

Instead I said: "Something in my eye, I guess"


Good Morning Mickey

Welcome to the Eurostar. This is a fabulous train. You get on at Waterloo station in London, and get off in Paris. Or in this case, EuroDisney.

First class, of course. Heck, the booking was my last hurrah on the joint accounts back in March.

First-born was singularly unimpressed as I enthused about the size of the seats, the niceness of the staff and the bar in the carriage along. When we go to Florida next year we're flying coach. That'll teach her. Oh yes.

I've also decided that champagne is the way to go. Not as fattening as beer and no hang-over this morning. However, I did have a cleaner related moment last night. Shortly after I'd finished off the meal there was a sharp rap on the door. My first thought was naughty: "Man, this is some hotel - free champagne, nice food and they've obviously clocked me as a single bloke, so perhaps a beautiful blonde, brunette or red-head (or even all three) is coming to tuck me in."

No such luck. A large woman of eastern european extraction (possibly an ex-Bulgarian shotputter) was waiting on the other side of the door. She wordlessly wheeled out the table and thrust two small packages in my hand.

"Chocolate" she said simply.

And then she was gone.

2 hours more on the train, and then we're in Disney. Yay!

(Yeah, I've got the magic red card going. My inner geek is showing again)

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Live From London

Oh yeah, selling the car was worth it. The view from the massive window is fantastic. I'm having a bit of Pink Floyd moment over the size of the room. And I even had a treat waiting for me.

Seems there was mix-up with the room reservation, and look what was waiting for me:

First-born has gone to bed, so I may have to indulge a little. And in the usual English way of screwing up American concepts (in this case, thoughtful hotel service) there are no glasses. Just the bottle of champagne. So I'm going to swig it from the bottle, stand on the balcony and shout randomly at tourists. Oh wait, *I'm* a tourist.

There is something deeply debauched about standing on the balcony, clad only the hotel dressing gown, glugging from a bottle of champagne while Room Service lays out the evening meal.

Heck, part of me says I should be saving the money. The other half says "Sod that". I'm with the latter half.

Next stop, Paris.


...and I'm gone. A week in the tender care of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Next post from the London hotel and tomorrow... live from the Eurostar! Weeee!

(slightly nervous at the moment. Its occurred to me that no banks are going to be open - I collect the cash for my car today, and will find myself wandering about with almost £2000 in my pocket, and a big target subconsciously painted on my back...)

Friday, July 09, 2004

Hurricanes Sweep England

I love the English approach to weather. All this week, the Met Office has been dispensing dire warnings about imminent storms. Lock up your daughters, hurricanes are a-coming. We're all going to die. Etc, etc, etc.

Well, the storm hit last night and the night before. As you can see, the damage is horrendous. Insurers will go bankrupt. Lives will be forever blighted.

Readers in the Americas, Asia, in fact any part of the world that has 'proper' weather may stop laughing now.

Come spend some time in England when we get our annual Weekend Of Minor Snowfall. For every quarter inch that falls, the more hysterical the media get...

(thanks to MC for providing the picture. My camera obviously could not function in such difficult conditions)

What Idiot...

...came up with the idea of using plastic to make utensils that are likely to be used in a frying pan?

I mean, the business end is all stainless steel, but using material on the handle so pathetic that it melts if you breathe on it having eaten a strong mint is just silly. Come on, we've all left the utensil in the pan with the handle resting on the rim while we've dived into a cupboard for some spices, haven't we? Haven't we?

Someone should teach these manufacturers a lesson for having such a silly design. Oh yes.

(Yeah, I went and melted the handle of my Aunt's slotted-turner-thing on one of her posh frying pans. The burning plastic set-off the smoke alarm. Yes, I am an idiot. The tragedy is that I'm nervously waiting for her to return so I can confess. I feel 14 again.)

The House Of Ever-Increasing Oddness

Today is the first day of my holiday with First-born. And again, I find myself back in the marital home, prowling about like a caged tiger. Ok, more like a mildly annoyed sloth, if truth be known.

First-born is sleeping off a late night, so I'm kicking around waiting for her to surface, at which point we will go swimming, eat out at her favourite resteraunt (yes, THAT place) and then do some pot-painting in the local art shop. She paints flowers and smiles. I paint palm trees and rockets.

But the house is so strange. The furniture is all the same (I can point to every piece and tell you where it came from, what was going on around the time we bought it and so on.) Except there's some of The Boyfriend's stuff shoe-horned in. And things have been moved around.

It smells different too.

And I was unprepared for what was to greet me when I opened the oven to make first-born's breakfast. Ewwww.

There was also the ongoing challenge of being civil to The Ex and The Boyfriend before they left for work. My usual strategy of comforting myself with the knowledge that they'd probably be dead some time before me did the trick. Nod, smile, nod, smile.

Tomorrow - expensive hotel with huge window looking over the Thames, Big Ben and the houses and parliament. Photos to follow.

I'm also updating the side-bar. Beware the broken links...

Thursday, July 08, 2004

On The Positive Side

My car survived the thump.

Four new tyres. Sundry suspension repairs. A new seat cover for the drivers seat to replace the one I was, er, very frightened on.

I lied about the last thing. No, really - I did.

Still deeply, deeply hacked off about the apartment. Someone tell me something funny.


Two phone calls in 5 minutes.

The first from the builders of my apartment asking me how things are going, since the estate agents of The Boyfriend had clammed up. Yeah - its a convoluted process; The Boyfriend has to sell his place to buy me out of mine.

The second was from The Boyfriend, confessing that *his* buyer had a mortgage problem and so there'd be a two month delay. Which is, I imagine, why the estate agents clammed up.

Two months.

I don't think I can take another two months. I really can't.

I phoned the builders back and they were very sympathetic, but I really can't see them hanging on for another two months.

Its all going to go wrong.

If I was alone in my room, I think I'd probably cry. As it is, I'm in an office of blokes. So I'll say "fuck" a lot instead. And maybe even the 'c' word.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Tweedledum And Tweedledee

Yeah, I'm glad I don't have to wear a suit and tie. In fact, the whole suit/tie thing weighs heavily in my job choice at interview.

These chaps were walking in step on the station, chuntering into their mobile phones, but not to each other.

Observation of today:

The Big Boss was in a telecon with we mere mortals today, and he plugged in his laptop (a slimline silvery number) to charge. After a while, rather than bleep or flash a light, it spoke "Your battery has now been charged" in a very sexy female voice. Possibly west coast.

I mean, it was an inanimate object, but it had such a nice voice. For the next half hour I imagined the owner of that voice tying me to a chair and reading some of Keats' poetry to me. Sigh....

I love accents. I don't really have one - I'm told its a little Estuary, but mainly nothingness. The curse of a father in the royal air force and spending much of one's formative years in a different country every 6 months. But I think an accent is very attractive - there's something of the unknown about it...

Rewind, Replay

Ever had a day that you wish you could simply rewind and start over?

It began badly. I bent the car on the way to day 2 of the course (not quite The Accident, but certainly An Accident) - a large truck decided it wanted both sides of the road, so could I drive on the pavement for a little while please?

Hitting a kerb at over 50 miles an hour is not good for the sphincter.

After a while, I was able to release my death-like grip on the steering wheel, realise that the car was still in its proper orientation (namely, wheels on ground, roof in air) and gingerly attempt to drive on to the sound of distressing noises from the steering.

I took it to a garage later and was told:

"Oh yeah mate, yer flange rebate valve's gone"
"My what?"
"Tch - yer flange rebate valve. Cost yer a 1000 quid to fix. Nah, wait a sec - 1000 quid and 49 pence"
"What?? What's the 49 pence for?"
"The *new* flange rebate valve, of course. The rest is for labour. Come back next week and we'll have got some greasy handprints on the upholstery for you"

Nothing more to say about the course. I'd had some sleep last night and was disappointed by the non-appearance of the gimp.

Since my car was (and is) in the tender car of the world's worst mechanic, I opted for my usual panacea of excessive drinking with the boss, since I wouldn't have to drive home. Except I fell asleep on the train and woke in London. I woke up with what I hoped was my own drool on my chest and the words of first-born ringing in my ears: "You'd be really good looking if your tummy was smaller". Time, I think, to cut out the beer. And switch to tequila.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Bring Out The GAMP

"The gamp's sleepin'"
"Well, you better wake him up..."

And after three hours sleep I had to attend a course. On something called GAMP. Naturally, I thought "gimp" and so for the next 8 hours, while a pleasant lady discussed Good Automated Manufacturing Processes, my mind kept putting a Pulp Fiction-esque gimp behind her, madly dancing to the tune of Comanche.

Yeah, it appears that no sleep and 8 litres of fully leaded coca cola is great for hallucinations.

In fact, I couldn't shake the movie thing all day. She plugged in a new Sony projector. When the power went on, the silvery box made a lovely ping noise, showed a foxy little blue LED, and noiselessly raised itself up on stubby legs.

The sound made by all the men around the table was just like that made by the little green guys in Toy Story as the claw swung out. OooooOOOoooooOOOOooO. I think the presenter was a little hurt that it was her hardware that was getting all the attention.

And now this gimp needs his sleep. G'night.

Oh So Tired

Hey, guess what? Called out again. This is starting to get ridiculous now. I'm counting down the days to Disney, not so I get to spend to quality time with First-born, but so I get to sleep for more than 3 hours without hearing the cursed beep-beep-beep of that evil slab of black plastic.

Went swimming with First-born today (ok, yesterday for the pedants.) She's been fascinated with whole make-over thing: "Wow, I love your hair, Dad." "Hey, thats a cool jacket, Dad" and so on... so I thought another compliment was on the way when she looked at me thoughtfully as we got dressed afterwards:

"You know, you'd be really good looking if your tummy was smaller"

Thanks, kiddo.

So, maybe its time to start another photo-blog along the lines of scary man John Stone. Or is this just the caffeine talking right now?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Off Topic

Nothing worse than a journal entry about journal entries but...

...Blogger seems a bit poorly at the moment. Either that, or all my favourite journals have begun to need a tickle with the Refresh button before they appear.

I'd also like to apologise to the person who came here looking for "contortions girls in lycra". None here, but when you find them; please let me know their phone numbers.

And pity the poor individual who was searching for "cliff richard sings on centre court" and found themselves in my little puddle of debauched bitterness. Not quite The Millenium Prayer, I'm afraid.

Thought for the day: this time next week, First-born and I will be in Euro-Disney. Yay!

Wha? - Argh!

It appears that my father has taught First-born the guaranteed way of waking me up. The ancient art known as The Wet Grolly.

Its a hideous thing, whereby the attacker licks a knuckle (usually of the index finger) and drives it into the ear of the prone victim, usually with a rotating motion.

After she'd peeled me off the ceiling (at 5am) she waved the Toy Story 2 DVD in a hopeful fashion.

I can only hope that my father has yet to teach her The Nagasaki Nose Throw.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Good News / Bad News

Good News: First-born is staying over tonight

Good News: We're doing a girly thing tonight and going to watch a film and eat chocolates (ok, so I'm in touch with my feminine side, alright?)

Good News: The film isn't Toy Story (now over 30 viewings logged)

Bad News: Its Toy Story 2

Good News: I sold my convertible car today

Bad News: For nowhere near what I was hoping

Bad News: And The Ex wants Her Half

Good News: But there's enough left over to either save for furniture, or stay in a REALLY expensive hotel in London either side of the trip to Eurodisney!

Good News: Sod furniture. I'll have some pampering, thankyouverymuch.

So thats 6 Good News and 3 Bad News. That makes today a good day.

Who Am I Again?

Hmmm. I am in a quandary. I generally post and be damned (with one notable exception, which surprised me, and I'm still thinking about three weeks later.)

However, there is a good chance that by going into too much detail about Friday's activities I could end up 'outting' myself. Ah well, best apply the NewlySingle First Rule Of Journal Writing and carry on.

The day began at 0930 at the Boot And Flogger, where champagne was waiting along with the itenary. Taking my life in my hands, I had cunningly consumed a bacon sandwich (prepared by a sullen Greek chap) at the station and so was sufficiently prepared.

One bottle later, I rolled out and into a waiting taxi and said, between hiccups: "The George And Vulture". This is normally a christmas pilgramage, where the 12 eldest of the family get together and report on the year's events. Pity the youngest, who comes at the end of the reporting after a good 15 or more bottles of port have made their way around the table.

London cabbies are usually great, but this chap had evidentally cheated on The Knowledge, and required directions to Lombard Street. Proffering a 5 pound note (the first of many over the course of the day) we staggered in.

The G&V is another very elderly public house, now sadly converted into a resteraunt. However, the stairs up to 'our' room remain the same Health And Safety nightmare. Particularly when you climb them (relatively) sober and then try to navigate back down while roaring drunk. Luckily, there is a hospital nearby. Something we've apparently had to use on more than one occasion. I can't remember; I was generally there (and no, for once that wasn't a typo.)

Following a regaling of past antics from The Great Uncle, it was time to negotiate the stairs and move on to our next location. First, however, there was another tradition to attend to. The race up the monument (a tower located near the old Bank Of England, with its very own tube station.)

For a nominal sum, you can climb up the 311 steps inside and, from the top, attempt to urinate over London. Ok, maybe not the last bit, but after a drink or two its amazing the sorts of suggestions that start making perfect sense.

The stairs in The Monument make the trek up down the stairs in the G&V a breeze, and more than once the individuals who suggested the race were cursed unto the third and fourth generation as we gingerly made our way down.

Those who had the sense to opt out of climbing the monument had headed on to the next pub (correctly assuming that had they remained at the foot of the tower we would have started throwing things at them) so a chase over London Bridge was required with mobile clutched to ear, the radiation from which was doing battle with the alcohol to see which could kill the most brain cells.

After tearing past Nancy's steps, pausing to say "Oh look, The Clink" and disgracing ourselves outside Southwark Cathedral, we caught up with The Great Uncle at the site of the old Globe Theatre (not the new one that has built on the south bank.) Little more than a plaque remains. We attempted to take some pictures of the Hop Exchange, but were thrown out (odd that) before heading on to the Old Kings Head.

Lovely place. But not as nice as The George, which is hidden in alley off the street. We climbed up onto the old balconies and persuaded the sound man to take photos before the landlord yelled at us.

They serve a good pint of Adnans there. Unlike the next place, where the beer tasted faintly of vinegar which resulted in a switch to Guinness (lager is not permitted. Or rather it is, but the drinker of it has to buy the next round.)

Next was the Kings Arms, a pub made more interesting by the huge sign above the door featuring a Lion and Unicorn, both sporting impressive genitalia. The barmaid told us a long and convoluted story about the sign - apparently there are royal connections - but at this point I was more interested in the beer she was pouring, and her cleavage. Such is the curse of beer.

And then back to the Boot And Flogger. For lunch.

(To be continued...)

Friday, July 02, 2004

Start Your Engines

The next post may well be from Guy's Hospital, where I'll be recovering from my liver exploding.

The train leaves in an hour, from where I make my way to The Boot And Flogger. And then it will begin...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I'm Getting Too Old For This

Out with the Uncle tonight. Spent time looking at pretty girls and concentrating on holding the beer down. Barfing after the 11th pint of beer is just *so* last century.

For food we considered Chinese, Indian, Kebabs and the local Fish and Chip shop. We settled on a sumptious feast of Cheese On Toast (with Branston Pickle) back at his place before I staggered home to the dulcet tones of Mr Pager.

This is, I gather, preparation for tomorrow. The Uncle bade me farewell with a cheerful wave just now with the comment "Make sure you line your stomach - gonna be a good day tomorrow."

Yeah. I'm getting too old. Thing is, the leader of tomorrow's pub crawl is in his 80s.

Paranoid? Me?

The scene - Victorian London in the grip of thick, yellow fog. Swirling through cobbled alleys, drifting over slumped figures; hands outstretched in the hope of charity. Two gentlemen, wrapped against the foul mist with top hats sending the fog curling in tendrils behind them, are stepping over the glistening stones; polished shoes reflecting the faint gas-light above.

Dr Mobile: "Ah, Mr Pager. A fine evening for a stroll"
Mr Pager (for it is he): "Indeed. The stench of failure is in the air. One can almost taste it"
Dr Mobile: "Failure you say? Why it must be almost 24 hours since we last indulged ourselves..."
Mr Pager (thoughtfully): "So it is, so it is..."
Dr Mobile: "And look! There! Lying on the street! A young begger-girl... with her ankles exposed!"
Mr Pager (in shock): "Ankles? Exposed? Dr Mobile, I can no longer control myself! I must! I must!"

Beep beep beep beep

At 0230 this morning the pager went off. At 0330 I was in the office, blearily staring at a biege box that was being sick from every orifice all over the network. At 0600 I was back in bed, trying to grab half an hour's sleep.

And then... and then... the horror. I became aware of someone prodding my side and a wavering voice said:

"Hello dearie, are you awake? Only I need to give your room a dust"

I opened my eyes to find a kindly wrinkled face inches from my own. Sadly, there aren't enough keys on the keybaord to do justice to my reaction.

I gather my Father did two things. Firstly, he decided that I needed sleep, and when my alarm failed to wake me, left me alone. Secondly, he has employed a cleaner, and left a note instructing her to wake me when she got to my room.

Why couldn't it have been a svelte young student working the vacation or something? Why must it be somebody older than my grandmother, surrounded by a faint odour of cabbage?