Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Good News / Bad News

From the department of "The Feeling You Get When You See Tony Blair Driving Off A Cliff In Your New Car"

I got a call tonight.

The Ex and The Boyfriend set off for their belated honeymoon today. I have First-Born for the week and was scheduled to drop her off on Saturday when they return. Unfortunately, it appears that The Boyfriend has come down with a nasty case of food poisoning and so they're going to be delayed (I imagine that being blind, he was unable to see the stuff The Ex serves up and therefore failed to discreetly dispose of it.)

This means I get FB for an extra day, which is great - it'll doubtless mean we get to try all three of the local theme parks rather than just the two I'd planned. The fact that its coupled with a spoiled holiday ('explosively' spoiled, I gather) for The Ex gives me the altruistic pleasure of doing stuff with FB along with the guilty delight in another's misfortune.

So why the title to this entry?

I'd planned to see The Lovely B on Sunday. FB is my top priority and extra FB days are a bonus, but I'm disappointed to have to cancel The Lovely B. And I feel guilty that I feel disappointed.

How's that for mixed emotions?

Monday, May 30, 2005

I Wish I Was In Vancouver

The Canadians (well, those in the Vancouver area at least) are an altruistic bunch. During my stay I was able to totter around the city and find myself a free WiFi accesspoint at will. Judging by the names, it would be a private one. Configured by a citizen who I preferred to think of as charitable rather than lacking in basic security competence.

The town in which I live is sadly less than connected. Indeed, I have a feeling that most of its denizens would respond "the radio, old boy" when questioned on the meaning of "wireless". This is the place that originated the quote "Sex is what the man uses to carry the coal".

And so it is that I'm lacking a connection. The ADSL was turned off at 10:30pm on May 16th and will not return until well into June. Not that I'm counting down the days or anything...

I went to a party yesterday thrown by a friend emigrating to Vancouver next week. I wish I was going too.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Time To Rejoin The Yoof

Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of the BBC, and Radio 4 in particular. Since I worked out how to operate my expensively difficult to use digital radio (there's some sort of law that states that all electronic equipment gets progressively harder to work the more expensive it gets) I've had Radio 4 waking me up the morning.

I may have to change this. This morning I was woken to the sound of a presenter gushing enthusiastically about his programme's mission "To Find Britain's Favourite Bus Stop"

Next week: "Watching Britain's Favourite Paint Dry"

Friday, May 27, 2005

Car Wars

I blinked again at the toilet roll dispenser: "Volkswagen Warranties. Please take one."

Then I woke up.

Yes my friends, I have yet again been bitten by a car warranty that is worth less than the piece of paper its written on.

The first time was with my Mini Cooper (the old shape, not the flabby-arsed bulbous vulgarity that BMW have foisted upon the world) - 3 years after purchase it began to rust tragically. This was apparently not covered by the corrosion warranty since there were no actual holes. The second time was with a Fiat Punto. This time the clutch failed in the first year and again the warranty was void since Fiat consider such a minor part of the transmission to be a consumable. Third was courtesy of Suzuki and a cracked manifold - another consumable it seemes.

So when the "I'm broken - take me to a garage" light came on, I got a now all-too-familiar sinking feeling.

The bored sounding female voice on the phone said "No, its not covered. Your car needs a software upgrade - the warranty excludes that sort of thing. If there's still a fault after we've done the upgrade, then the mechanic will investigate further."

And with that, I was stung for the best part of £100 for the labour involved in plugging a laptop into my car and uploading software. The fault light went off.

Do I feel a little conned? Just everso slightly.

In case anyone feels the urge to buy a nearly new Volkswagen Golf, remember that VW's warranty is worth marginally less than a promise from Tony Blair not to introduce tuition fees and that Sidlow Volkswagen of Horsham are perhaps the least trustworthy and most unhelpful car dealership I've ever had the pleasure of using.

Thank you for your attention.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Quote Of The Day

The Ex, upon seeing the first report on First-Born's mental state:

"What? Thats not fair! She blames me for everything!"

Well, duh.

You Can't Scrape Your Fingernails Down A PowerPoint Slide

A large chunk of the BBC went on strike on Monday which meant that their usual current affairs radio output was replaced by repeats of panel games, sketch shows and off-the-wall documentaries. One particular one found me while I was in the car at lunchtime. It was concerned with how Microsoft Powerpoint was Evil. The presenter was positively foaming at the mouth (an impressive achievement to get this across on radio, I'm sure you'll agree) about trivialising serious matter with animations, graphics and bullet points.

I agree. I loathe having to sit through a PowerPoint presentation, where the presenter simply reads the slides out loud and tries to enliven the wafer-thin content with inappropriate clip-art (is there any other sort?) culled from Microsoft's website. And ensuring slides are readable often means that there can be hundreds of the damn things to sit through.

The only cheering aspect is when that bloody paperclip pops up and the audience yells "Fuck OFF, Clippy"

Obviously this depends somewhat on the content of the audience...

But I digress. The presenter finished by suggesting a new parlour game: converting famous speeches into PowerPoint presentations. I've just spent a happy half hour converting Churchill's "We Will Fight Them On The Beaches" into 3 slides, replete with animations and sound effects for each place where the fighting will occur. I'm particularly pleased with the tinny rendition of the French national anthem. I less sure about the mad fairground tune to illustrate the beaches.

I suspect it may have lost some of its inspirational qualities. Ah well, I guess thats progress.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


As I've got older, I've begun to enjoy the Eurovision Song Contest more and more. The music has remained a shining beacon of crapness in an otherwise dull world and the voting process assists me in justifying my cyncism.

On Saturday I went to a Eurovision party. This was a new thing - in the past I've kept my addiction strictly private. Sharing it with almost perfect strangers was a strange experience.

Kind of like sitting on a bus, whispering to the person sitting next to you: "I'm wearing my girlfriend's underwear" and having him whisper back: "So am I"

Of course, if he was wearing your girlfriend's underwear rather than that of his current beloved, then an arguement might ensure resulting in possible fisticuffs, or possibly a new sexual experience for the three of you.

But I digress. My vote this year went to Serbia for fielding a Boyband whose members had all learned different dances. Moldova was another candidate with their "Granny Bangs The Drum", featuring an elderly lady in the national dress hitting a large drum to a rhythm all of her own. It didn't make much headway in our group after someone christened it "the Granny banging song" which was a mental image I could have done without.

In common with the rest of Europe, no-one voted for the UK. Still, at least France and Germany fared even worse. Every cloud/silver lining/etc etc.

Under Pressure

I've not had time to fully enjoy the new digs yet due to pressure of work. In fact, even this poor journal is feeling a little left out.

To amuse ourselves, we've been acquiring garden Gnomes and spreading them around on the lawns outside the office block. Although an unwary client might be alarmed to see one peeping out behind a tree, management have yet to stomp on our fun (and our Gnomes. Even the one showing its bottom.)

This may be about to change.

I came in today to find one of the Gnomes hung by its neck from a rope slung from the roof. A note was stuck to it saying "I can't stand the pressure any more. Goodbye." Its cheery countenance was somewhat in contrast to the content of the note.

I wonder what fate my chaps have planned for the rest of the grotesque ornaments. Death by Rabbits, I would imagine.

Friday, May 20, 2005

How Would You Like Your Eggs? Fried? Scrambled? Or Shoved Up Your...

I made a mental note that I needed to trim my fingernails as I clenched my fist so hard that my palms bled.

The Ex and I came to an agreement last year that I wouldn't have First Born every weekend, my two nights a week would be alternately weeknights and weekends. This initially worked pretty well, but in the last few months The Ex has been getting later and later in picking FB up in the mornings (she works next door to FB's school - I work 25 miles in the opposite direction.)

It came to a head yesterday morning - having had a warning from my employer about tardiness I'd asked The Ex to get to me a little earlier to allow me to make it to work for 8:30am. She and The Boyfriend turned up at 8:25am. Now, the Golf Of Doom is fast, but would need to average over 150mph to stand a chance of making it to work.

The Boyfriend sniffed: "If you want us to arrive any earlier, you'll have to make us breakfast"

'Sorry' would have sufficed. For only the second time in my life, the red mist descended and the urge to punch him in his smug face was nearly irresistable. Nearly. FB, resplendent in her school uniform, was present. So I gritted my teeth and forced a smile: "I don't think there'd be time, maybe you could try and be just a little earlier?"

I made another mental note: The Boyfriend and I were going to have a discussion down a dark alley sometime soon. Very soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Having not eaten for almost 48 hours, I'd spent the time between the removal guys loading up their compulsorily battered Ford Transit and the moment I was handed the keys to the new flat stuffing my face with a huge fried breakfast at a greasy spoon cafe located happily close to my new home.

This was a mistake.

The agent gave me the keys and I let myself into the freshly decorated hallway. I spent a little while skipping from room to room, pausing only to save "Mine!" in each (aside from First-Born's, in which I said her name.) This didn't take long.

I called the removal men. They had, in that great British tradition, gone to lunch and would doubtless appear in about 90 minutes, smelling faintly of beer. Oh well, there was no hurry.

It was at this point that my stomach began to protest and the nature of my mistake made itself known. I barely made it to the bathroom in time to 'christen it'. The more perceptive of you will be able to guess my next problem. The flat was brand new and totally empty. It was devoid of all the items one normally associates with a bathroom.

I considered my options. On the floor in front of me was my jacket, containing keys, mobile telephones and wallet. A way forward presented itself to me.

And that, my friends, is how I can tell you that till receipts from Waitrose are far softer and more absorbent than those from Tesco, which are shiny and quite prickly.

I wonder if they'll use that fact in their advertising campaign?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Day Before Moving House

Bad: your car breaks down

Worse: the patient-safety critical system you're responsible for stops working, and you learn that the chap supposed to keep back-ups of the data didn't

Oh fuck: You get a call from your kid's school saying that she attempted to open a vein with a knife during lunch because 'she hates her life'

Yes, I managed to move in today. Yes, I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

(and I'm hoping the First-Born is attention-seeking - regardless, she's off to see a counsellor)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Missed Point Alert

I grew out of Star Wars at around the same time I developed acne and acquired my first girlfriend. I was about 13 at the time. Hence I've not really been too affected by the hysteria around the new films. Sure, I saw 'Phantom Menace' and my considered opinion was that it was a big bag of wank. The next one was better - more things got blown up, which qualified it as one of my favourite "put your brain in neutral" fun movies of the year (if you take out all of the excrutiatingly bad dialog.)

I'm told the third one will also be quite good, and worth the price of a cinema ticket for the spectacle alone. I had similar criteria for the Lord Of The Rings films, which looked lovely but had an appalling - really appalling - script.

This week is the week when George Lucas finally runs out of space to store his money as 'Episode 3' is released. In honour of this release, one of the big London cinemas is doing a back-to-back showing of all the Star Wars films culminating in the new film. Now like I said, I'm not a fan but even I can see how thats going to be a little odd for all the members of the audience in their various home-made costumes ("Look at me! I'm Princess Leia!" "No you're not, Princess Leia was played by Carrie Fisher, not a 25 stone male video-store employee with personal hygiene issues".) The sequence will go Episode 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3.

Then again, I suspect that after 12 hours of George Lucas's awful, awful dialog and some of the worst acting to be splattered over the screen since... er... since the last Star Wars film, the audience will be too numbed to care.

Worship Him And All His Works (Or Not)

I tapped the dashboard hopefully. The orange light refused to go away. "Please?" I asked. The car chose to ignore me, and continued displaying its "I'm think I'm broken and I want to visit a VW mechanic" light.

Its at times like these that I truly believe that there is a God. Not one worshipped by any of the major religions, no - one that only exists to make things go wrong just when you really need them not to.

I mean, I'm moving house tomorrow. In 24 hours time, I'll be staring at the compulsory 3 inches of hairy arse crack that all manual labourers are required by law to show while performing any task (in this case, transferring 15 cardboard boxes, 1 sofa, 1 deceptively heavy table and 1 washing machine across town.) And I really need my car to be working. And THE DAY BEFORE I MOVE it has decided to misbehave.

Henceforth I shall be forming The Church Of Bloody Mindedness in the hope that whatever deity is directing things to happen at the worst possible time permits its worshippers to go through life free of washing machines detonating the morning before the landlady comes to inspect the house and other such misdemeanours.

Friday, May 13, 2005

30,000 Not Out

So this is it. The third time I get to pack my life up into cardboard boxes in just over a year.

Maybe I'll find the remote for the Freeview box that I lost in January.

I sure do have a heck of a lot of books and CDs. I was also getting all misty eyed while boxing up the bits and pieces that First-Born has personalised her room with. Right up until I discovered her secret stash of snacks. Which I suspect she forgot about sometime around christmas, judging by the amount of cotton wool growing on it. Lovely girl.

The big day is Tuesday next week. I shall be packing up the kitchen stuff tonight in order to have an excuse to eat take-aways for the next 4 nights.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Sideways Move

"Its the going rate, mate" explained the uniformed man, in between excavations of his left nostril, "Nothing I can do - you could try someone else if you like..."

Of course I couldn't. He knew as well as I that his was the sole local removals company able to move my gear from little flat to another one, just across the street, on the date I needed.

I bit the inside of my lip and drew blood as I wrote a cheque. He peered over my shoulder: "Boxes is extra, mate"
"You're going to charge me for the use of these cardboard boxes?"
"'Course I am," he said, "Specialised cardboard is that. Expensive to replace if you damages 'em"

We both looked at the boxes. The cheerful logo proclaiming their previous existance as shipping containers for bananas at the local supermarket beamed back.

I didn't comment. I handed the cheque over and bade him farewell.

The next hour was spent packing as much heavy stuff as I could find into a single box so that I might enjoy the sound of the disks in his back popping when he tries to pick it up next week.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pick One

The condom machine in my local pub has three options:

1. 'Fun' - I presume this means something ribbed, or something with a smiley Mickey Mouse head on the end.

2. 'Safe' - wrap a bin liner around one's wedding tackle.

3. 'Performance' - ok, I'm at a loss. What the heck does that mean?

Answers on a postcard to

"I bet Michael Schmacher knows,
Newly Single
Dot Com"

Delusional Male

This is an icky journal entry of a sexual nature. If you're likely to be offended then skip on, skip on...

There are some links that are sent to you by friends that you really wish you'd never clicked on. No, I don't mean goatse, tub girl or lemon party (no, I'm not providing links; if you want to find out what they are, go visit Google. But don't say I didn't warn you.)

No, in this case I was sent a link to a review site for UK ladies of negotiable affection. I didn't know such things existed and I was instantly fascinated. Not so much by the sheer quantity, but by the reviews themselves and the male egos within.

Now, I have to confess to not having a dramatic amount of experience in this arena, but I'd always imagined that the interaction was of a transactional nature. Particularly when many of the reviews were of liasons lasting between 15 to 30 minutes. Client and supplier agree rate. Client pays. Client ejaculates. Client leaves.

But no, it would appear that many of the reviewers were super-studs, capable of bringing any woman - even one who has probably seen more men than there are stones in a quarry - to a thunderous orgasm.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but...

1) The only person likely to truly get off from monetary-based oral sex is the recipient (unless the man in question is blessed with semen that tastes of chocolate.)
2) "Putting it in the other hole" is likely to be more a cause of discomfort rather than waves of ecstasy.

and finally...

3) It might be possible, just possible, that the lady in question is an actress of award-winning quality.

Sometimes I'm faintly ashamed of the self-deluding qualities of my gender.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Office Politicking

"There's no 'me' in team!" exhorted the consultant.
"Yes there is," replied a co-worker, "There's a 'M' and an 'E' - that makes 'me'"

Other co-workers nodded their agreement with mutterings of "He's right, you know" and "How much are we paying this guy?" and "Is it time for a break? Only I'm dying for a cup of tea"

The consultant looked a little flustered, so the co-worker continued kindly: "I think you meant no 'I' in 'team' - that would make more sense."

"Albeit not much" he continued in clearly audible mutter.

Somebody else, who'd clearly thought about this a lot continued: "You could represent our software leasing agreements with a 'To Let' sign, and indicate that achieving success in this arena can only be done for teamwork. Thusly, "There is no 'I' in 'To Let' because that would make 'Toilet' which is frequently full of sh-"

"Shall we take a break?" interupted the consultant brightly.

Ricky Gervais is not a genius. He's just very good at writing down what really happens in the office environment.

I'm currently at the mercy of management handbooks. One chap stared at me for a good 5 minutes before saying "Hmmm, I can't work out if you're a banana or a fish." The last time I heard someone say that was after they'd taken some prescription medication and was shortly followed by "Aaaargh - the spiders! The spiders!" It appears that the same effect can be achieved by reading a book of management bollocks instead.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Poor Flipper

"With a dolphin?" I inquired, slightly perturbed.

Guys are disgusting. Seriously, we are. If we aren't talking about cars or sundry bodily functions, then we generally talk about sex. And guys, as you know, will have sex with pretty much anything.

We were sitting in a sunny garden of a country pub, drinking beer and enjoying a splendid steak baguette. The conversation turned to a work colleague who was currently conducting a not-so-clandestine affair with a co-worker who, it was claimed, bore an uncanny resemblance to a bulldog licking piss off a thistle. This proceeded to a lengthy discussion on bestiality.

"There was this guy who got arrested for fucking a dolphin, you know" volunteered one of our number.

We paused to digest this. Rather than try to redirect the conversation to something like cars or football, we continued:

"How? The, er, orifice is pretty well concealed, isn't it?"
"Dunno. Maybe he used the blowhole"
"The blowhole? Ewwww! Thats just sick!"

...as opposed to whole concept of fucking a dolphin.

Like I said. Guys are disgusting.

(Oh, and for anyone interested, the reds won, the blues came second and the yellows were third. Like its going to make a difference.)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Slow News Day

I met some BBC reporters at the weekend. One was covering the election and was thoroughly tired of the whole thing. "Its so stage-managed" he complained, "The only time we get to talk to the Prime Minister is when it looks like we're about to publish a whinge about him" I gather this is a more polite way of saying "when it looks like we're about to call him a c***"

He went on to give an example of the daily press-meeting

Press Liason: "Today the Prime Minister will be going to Birmingham..."
Chorus of reporters: "...where he'll be met by a crowd of Government supporters!"
Press Liason: "...where he'll be met by... Hold on a sec - how did you know that?"
Chorus of reporters: "Because thats what he does EVERY DAY!"

It probably explains why, on this election day, the flagship BBC national news programme ('Today', on Radio 4. Not 'NewsBeat' on Radio 1 - the presenters there can't say the word 'election' without putting on a fake chinese accent for comedy effect) chose not to lead on the race to govern the remnants of the British Empire.

Instead, the lead story on the most listened-to UK current affairs programme on the day of the UK election was the serious issue of foam cushions in European motorhomes being imported into the UK not meeting UK safety standards and thus presenting a serious fire hazard.

I kid you not.

I love the BBC.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Supersize You

The Ex was collecting First-Born this morning. "May I use the bathroom?" she enquired, this being her usual way of saying "I fancy snooping around your house for evidence of Another Woman and then theatrically flushing the toilet, is that ok?"

I nodded, and she gingerly made her way downstairs.

Presently there was a squawk from the ground floor.

"These bathroom scales, are they in kilograms or stones and pounds?"

I was about to answer when First-Born looked up from her croissant: "It won't make any difference Dad, she's probably already broken the scales. She needs something that measures in bigger units. I call them 'Mummygrams'"

Ordinarily I'd chide her for this - its a bit cruel. But unfortunately I was drinking orange juice at the time and managed to pass a substantial portion through my nose as I snorted back a laugh.

The Ex appeared, scowling, and said "What's happened here?"

First-Born shot me a very obvious wink before turning back to ineffectually smearing strawberry jam over the pastry along with much of the table.

"Nuthin'" she replied.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

(A play, the name of which I've been asked to remove from this entry)

...is a big bag of wank.

I intend to daub these words on a billboard and stand outside (London location)'s (theatre name) Theatre in an attempt to warn off anyone foolish enough to venture inside to see this production.

The lovely B took me to a show at the weekend. She's aware I have somewhat of a fetish for space-related topics and also that I have a weakness for theatre. So a play with the title of this journal entry would surely be perfect. Right?

The posters implied that excellence might lie within the walls of the theatre. I humbly suggest that the producers may have lifted the nice words out of the reviews for not altogether honest purposes.

For example, the poster said:

"Breathtaking, comic, drama, mystical"

The review actually said:

"Breathtaking, comic, drama, mystical are all words I wouldn't use when describing this pile of crap"

The first half was poor. The second half (during which the theatre emptied) was coma-inducingly bad. It was only lightened by the fact that the director had decided to be clever and have the actors play many different roles. A noble gambit, crushed by the fact that, as well as a script that doesn't belong on a toilet roll, you need good actors to pull it off. And sadly, these were not good actors. B and I found ourselves hooting with laughter as we tried to guess which tortured accent one particular actress was attempting. Was it it Russian? Geordie? Welsh? Scottish? No! Irish, of course! Occasionally she'd segue between a variety of accents for countries that have yet to be invented in the course of just one sentence.

An actor who played a Norwegian character (that would be Norway via Clapham Junction, judging by his intermittent accent) shot us a particularly dirty look as the cast took a bow to an embarrassed trickle of applause from the audience.

Highlight of the play? The bar, and spotting a girl in the audience who looked exactly like one of the bloggers in my list of links.