Friday, September 23, 2005

From The Department Of Unbearable Cuteness

And so the 18 hour days continue. Poor First-Born is catching the worst of it (well, her and my poor, neglected journal.)

Last night she and I were watching Dick Van Dyke's hysterically bad cockney accent in the film Mary Poppins. I'm ashamed to say that I quietly dozed off. I suspect that I may even have been snoring.

I awoke before the end of film, and discovered that First-Born had found a blanket, tucked me into it, and surrounded me with a collection of cuddly toys.

"You looked cold" was her explanation.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Altered Priorities Ahead

The comedian couldn't believe his luck. This material would last him for months.

"The biggest news in Dorking", he repeated carefully, "in the last three months, was that the wheelie bins were a bit smelly during the summer?"

The audience shifted in their seats and, as one, nodded.

I live in the county of Surrey in a town called Dorking (something that amuses my Canadian and American friends no end.) Dorking is about as pathologically English as you can get without having major surgery. I live behind a street that consists almost entirely of Antique shops and pubs housed in buildings older than several major countries.

Dorking is populated by that breed of English pseudo-intellectual that pays lip-service to liberalism but is conservative with a small c at thier core. Recently, the Arts Centre had a 100-strong band of Romanian Gypsy musicians playing. This event was publicised by a leaflet distributed to all the local households, advertising the troupe with the words "The only time you'll be pleased to see a bunch of gypsies turn up on your doorstep". I kid you not.

This was all manna from heaven for the comic. Being insufferably English, we're also far too polite to heckle. The only intake of breath came when the chap, while elaborating on his hatred for ducks, suggested swapping ducklings for tennis balls, thus confusing the mother duck and making for an intriguing game of mixed doubles.

Yes, in Dorking we're ok with the police gunning down an innocent man - but don't mess with our animals.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Things you can do when your hair has been reduced to stubble:

a) Stare at people on trains
b) Dye the tufts left sticking to your scalp red in order to worry your parents
c) Be mistaken for Tom Cruise

As I am tragically not a closetted gay midget, the last option isn't open to me. I have a fourth option too - fielding questions about the mysterious scars.

I have two mysterious scars that are now clearly visible through the fuzz. Their causes vary from a crash in motorcycle racing, or sustained while attempting to rescue an adorable kitten from a tree depending on the audience.

The actual cause was far more mundane. I was about 6 and tanking down the road on my bicycle. I turned to talk to a friend following behind and turned back just in time to hit the truck that had inconveniently parked by the side of the road with my face. I broke the poor chap's brake lights with my head.

And then, 2 weeks later, I did it again. Same truck, same brake light.

As a small child, I took great delight in my injury. I attended the school fashion show, garbed in 70's psychadelic Scooby Doo pyjamas and a white bandage around my head which these days would attract more attention from the trigger-happy elements of the Metropolitan police force more than anyone else.

Far more satisfying was when the stitches were removed. The thoughtful nurse let me keep them as a souvenir, obviously having not had much experience in the unpleasantness of little boys. I took great delight in showing the bits of thread replete with scabby bits of decaying flesh to anyone unfortunate to be nearby or, better still, eating lunch.

A charming child.

My mother took the awful things away (obviously) and I came across them the other day while perusing the family albums for material for the speech I have to give at my Dad's wedding next month.

Keeping baby's hair, I understand. But old stitches? That, my friends, is just wierd...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Scurvy Dogs

I had a haircut today.

In keeping with the self-absorbed nature of 99.9% of all on-line journals I felt I had to share that.

Its actually quite impressive - since 18 hour days are making my working life seem more like a prison, I figured that I might as well have sport some appropriate topiary on my head.

And with all the pizza I'm eating, I'm a little worried that I might be developing scurvy. Is it possible to be overweight and malnourished at the same time? Well, I guess 100 million Americans (or whatever today's scary health statistic is) can't be wrong...

That said, I've yet to work out how the lardiest country on earth manages to churn out the world's worst chocolate. The Boss's latest US trip yielded some American confectionary, which has yet to be disturbed from the communal biscuit table.

I got stuff about weddings, christenings and getting thrown out of eateries. But first I have to work... back later...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Good Heavens Doctor Freud!

This is a bit icky. Got a weak stomach or (like me) just eaten a really, really nasty pizza that tastes like the delivery boy ran out of space on his Moped Of Doom and so wedged it between his buttocks instead?

If so, skip on.

As you probably are aware, we Brits are enjoying somewhat unusual weather. Its all a bit hot and sticky. Because we don't really do air-conditioning as such (ok, we do, but unlike the American variety that turns an office into a passable version of the South Pole at the expensive of the real South Pole, the British version serves as a way of sending the same warm and stale air round and round the building) everywhere is a bit unpleasant.

Take the office pub. The boss frequently conducts meetings here while he plies us with alcohol to hear what we really think.

The gents toilets in the office pub is not a nice place to be. To compensate for the pools of dubious liquids festering on the floor in the heat (the result of ancient plumbing giving up and going home), the landlord has thoughtfully introduced ventilation. This takes the form of a chair propping the door open, giving those in the bar area a prime view of the goings on within.

The benefit of this is that while gingerly making use of the facilities, I was able to hear one of those wonderful one-sided conversations. A chap trying to talk to his girlfriend through the door to the ladies:

"Look, I'm really sorry"
(muffled voice)
"I know, it was dark in the club. Really"
(muffled voice)
"I was drunk. I won't do it again"
(muffled voice)
"I mean it this time. Yes, and that other thing too"
(muffled voice)
"Well how was I supposed to know she was your mother?"

Time, I think, to find a new pub.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum

Its a brave new world, now we Brits have people without Irish accents trying to blow us up. Where we would normally shrug off the latest atrocity by a minority of disturbed Irish individuals, an atrocity by a minority of disturbed Muslims appears to have induced a state of national paranoia.

Its felt even at the workplace of the Newly Single, where the only hazard to daily life is an occasional animal rights protestor who is too stupid to read our corporate literature. Unless they're protesting about the bunnies I've squished under my car over the years.

Yes, paranoia is rife. So much so that when a badly wrapped parcel arrived addressed for our Big Boss, HR got worried. The address was written in a scrawled hand and the brown paper had what looked like wires poking out.

Naturally, the Bomb Squad was called in.

The Bomb Squad peered at the lunchbox sized package that was now squatting on the HR Director's desk.

The Bomb Squad called for an x-ray machine.

An x-ray machine was brought from Gatwick Airport and installed.

Gingerly, the package was sent through the machine. Inside could be seen a block of something gelatinous, something that appeared to be machinery - maybe cogs - and wires.

(the whole building had been evacuated by this stage)

The Bomb Squad agonised over a controlled explosion, or opening the parcel. The latter option was selected.

And inside...


...was a piece of wedding cake, some ornaments from the cake (the cogs) and cake decoration (the wire.)

Sadly I have no formal record of what the Big Boss said, but I gather it involved naughty words. We enjoyed our half day though. Most of us elected to head for the pub. Freedom 1, Stuff Of Nightmares 0.

Monday, September 05, 2005


Humans are stupid, you know.

There's a great scene in Monty Python and The Holy Grail, which is a far better 'hunt for the Grail' story than Dan Brown's latest tediousness. Seriously, I finally got around to reading The Book Everyone Is Talking About while gently frying by the pool in Tuscany and I have to confess... its a bit rubbish.

Its one of those books where you really need to wear a plastic raincoat as you turn the pages to avoid being splashed by the author's semen. Every page has Mr Brown working himself into an orgasm of self congratulatory smugness: "Ooooh - look at me - look at all my research and cleverness - ooooh" Splurge.

And all this hides a tale more suited to the short story section of a Sunday magazine, with characters with motives so obvious that they resemble those East-European chaps you see on Oxford Street holding signs saying "Massive Golf Sale", except in this case the sign-post would have "Bad Guy" or "Good Guy" written in large letters.

Yes, I am marginally bitter about wasting a couple of days of my life on that book. Like the viewer of any recent Jude Law film, I want that portion of my life refunded. With every page I kept hoping it would improve and was always disappointed. Bit of a metaphor for life there.

Don't get me wrong, I like pulp fiction as much as the next person. What I really don't like is pulp fiction masquerading as serious writing.

But back to the that scene from Monty Python. Its the one where Michael Palin is defending his decision to build a castle on a marsh, in spite of the fact that it keeps sinking.

I suspect the same mentality makes humans build cities on swamps or skyscrapers on geological fault lines.

Me, I'm moving to the mountains. Thanks to global warming, there won't be enough snow for avalanches...