Monday, July 28, 2003

Pity the fools

Getting back from dinner with Katie on Friday, not tired and having heard nothing of the result of the Big Brother final I decided to watch it on video (yes, yes, we videoed it, bite me). I sent a text to Emma who is away on Sara’s hen do: “Watching BB on vid, don’t know who wins.” Seconds later she replied “Cameron wins”.

Well of course it’s not been as good other years but the killer 10pm daily update are perfect to keep you watching, Once you’ve bedded in for the night, its too late to go and do something new or demanding, too early for bed. You might as well let BB keep you company.

In Jon Tickle we’ve been able to watch the seduction of fame. Despite claims that he feared it in the outside world he, quickly fell for the whole national hero bunkum. So complicit was his fascination with the fickle mistress, by the time they put him back into the house, he truly believed that he had some kind of holding power over people claiming he would mess with their heads. This, he plainly failed to do, resorting to bleating embarrassingly at Cameron about why he never expressed an opinion. This was because Cameron was too canny to expose himself more than he needed to. Sadly Jon’s own mortality was cruelly exposed in that he was an ordinary bloke in an extraordinary world, not the other way round.

Of Cameron’s opinions, the one that did stand out was that he didn’t believe in same sex marriages. Sissy, who grated both in and out of the house, claimed that he shouldn’t win because he didn’t have the same view as “normal” people. Mind you this was the same person who developed a series of vendettas with people who nominated her, like it was in anyway avoidable. The crucial thing about his view was that he began the sentence, “It is certainly my opinion…”, that is he didn’t want to impress it onto others, that was just how he saw it. It is certainly my opinion that it is OK to hold a personal opinion, whilst I don’t agree with his view, his opinion is valid on this point alone. He also doesn’t believe in sex before marriage or excessive drinking, but I didn’t see him casting opinions or shunning those who did.

Big Brother is like a night out with friends. It could be just another night, it could be the best night of your life, either way, you participate to see which it will be. This is probably why it’s often branded boring, because it’s hard to induce the entertainment on demand. When you do try to do that it’s totally crass and cack handed… and called Fame Academy.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

(A load of) new balls please

I once bought mum a kite for her birthday. After some aborted launches throwing it in the air in a vane attempt to catch a gust, dad suggested we take a run up with the kite trailing behind. The instructions on the kite contradicted the approach, but Dad countered that he knew more than most about kite flying as he’d been doing it for “30 years”. It didn’t take Stephen Hawkins to work out that this would mean he’d started flying kites in his late twenties, about the time I was born which is a funny hobby to take up in a crisis. Either that or maybe time got lost somewhere.

“Your summer sport?” said Emma incredulously “When have you ever had a summer sport?”

Tennis is my summer sport; I just haven’t had a tennis partner for fourteen years. I used to play every day and was a member of our local club; we used to play best of about 140 sets in a single session. I was a bit of a Boris Becker, and a lot of a Boris Johnson.

I’ve not had a regular tennis partner since, what kind of girl do you think I am? I don’t just play with anyone. In Gareth I now have a potential tennis partner, so my natural talents could again grace the (school) tennis courts of Britain.

Playing on Wednesday for the first time in at least two years, I thought I would be rusty, but it was positively alien. The fourteen year gap since I played regularly opened up in front of me like a yawning chasm. Hitting a tennis ball involves moving your feet into a position far enough away to get a good swing, close enough to hit the ball. Power comes from your legs, through your spine and into your arms. The forearms are used for direction, and the wrist adds the spin.

But playing was not like riding a bike, for one thing, there’s no bike. Much as I tried to work it through, my brain couldn’t move my feet, so before I knew it the ball was hitting my forehead. The new fangled racket I borrowed off Sara did all the work in terms of power, so my viciously whipped forehand top spins sent the ball sailing over the fence, over the school maths block, and the English block, and into the Eastern bloc. Whilst I wrestled with the basics, Gareth waited patiently for a ball to come over the net, or eagerly chased after each homer lamped over the fence. Me? I apologised, a lot.

And now my shoulders burn, my fingers have blistered, my summer sport is as alien to me as buffalo racing. We’ll try again next week.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Stupid rich kids

ITV have introduced a new programme into their Thursday night ‘ooh the weekend is coming’ schedule. Previously post Big Brother was Club Reps and Pleasure Seekers – a programme that shot itself in the foot by introducing its features before the programme began.

“This week on Pleasure Seekers, a woman who dresses like an antelope for sexual pleasure”

Click, bed time.

The pack has been shuffled by moving Falaraki based Club Reps into the later Pleasure Seekers slot amidst tabloid outcry of teenagers going to the Greek Island on cheap holidays and drinking and having sex. The 10.30 slot is now occupied by Young, Posh and Loaded.

This is a “Reality TV Show” aka a documentary with no substance that ridicules the likes of Donetella for the indulgencies of her parents, one of which was her £45,000 Mini, a present from her dad for failing her driving test.

We were also introduced to a 23 year old “party animal” whose name escapes me; he wants to control London and everyone in it. His David Brent philosophising had a future of heroin addiction and bankruptcy written all over it.

He tells us his privileged background only gave him the foundation for take-off in his career, his ability provides the dynamite, his drive ignites the fuse. He didn’t need a weapon to murder the analogy; he strangled it with his bare hands.

Furthermore, it was all about the money, nothing else. “Some people think money is a dirty word, I don’t think money is a dirty word, in fact I think it’s a particularly clean word” – illustrating ‘clean’ by stretching an imaginary elastic band between his fingers.

None of this prepared us for Victoria Aitken, daughter of disgrace MP Jonathan. Victoria claimed she was neither posh, nor loaded, in fact she’s the opposite to Jennifer Lopez (what? Small bottom and, er, what’s the opposite of a velour tracksuit?) She even had a lyric to describe it - she was, it seems, “just Vicki from the yacht, she had a lot now she’s got a little”.

Victoria’s natural rhythm and her rhyming ability clearly cut her out to be a “rap star” – a career she’s very serious in pursuing. Now I don’t know if the TV crew simply gave her a couple of grand to make an idiot of herself, but for reasons best known to herself, she went to Soho for a hip hop open mic “battle” session. She was clearly intent on showing the rough boys how she can spit lyrics with the best of them. Without shame or hesitancy she got on the mic in front of hundreds of hardened hip hoppers for her first battle in a pair of slacks and a red jumper and danced like your mum at a wedding. Thankfully her lyrics saved her: -

“I wear red like Queen Victoria, Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah”.

Her battle partner opened with something like, “You’re a sloan, I’m gonna give you my bone...” going on to describe how he would flip her over, fill all the holes she had etc. etc.

Guess who won?

Monday, July 21, 2003

The revolution will be posted on this blog

As a result of the imaginatively titled “Computers for Teachers” scheme, Emma’s been given a laptop in order for her to obsessively play Solitaire. To her credit, although she’s unlikely to ever test the outer limits of its functionality, the first thing she did was create a short PowerPoint presentation for my benefit.

The first slide informed me of “the rules” relating to use of the laptop. There was just one; that Emma could make them up as she went along. Subsequent slides informed that, as she embarks on six weeks of summer holiday, she would be engaging in a large amount of sleeping, shopping, reading, sun bathing, and playing with the cats. If she’s not too busy she may do some stuff on the kitchen project – perhaps in celebration of the second anniversary of its inception.

It’s about time the government coughed up with a free laptop for us; after all it’s over three years since they gave us £500 towards a new PC.

The appearance of the Notebook has implications for this blog; I can now post in front of the telly, so I can watch The Cheeky Girls (bodies like Baywatch, faces like Crimewatch) performing their risible new single “A Cheeky Holiday”. I can watch Eat My Goal on CD:UK and hear the ‘Latest football scores’, including “Toy Story 2 How The West Was 1”.

The net effect on the quality of this blog (what do you mean, what quality?) is to be confirmed, I’m well aware that this country can only sustain three decent TV channels, with ITV and five being a crock of poo. Can this blog sustain my almost unlimited access to a keyboard? Will I have to refer to downgrade sexual innuendo, rehashed tired old stories, celebrity tittle tattle and sensationalised trivia to keep things going?

Oh alright then, how about…

Will I have to refer to more downgrade sexual innuendo, more rehashed tired old stories, more celebrity tittle tattle and more sensationalised trivia to keep things going?

Friday, July 18, 2003

Got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head

I woke up at 6.07 this morning, despite having gone to bed at 1am with work hassles buzzing around my head. And one particularly nauseous hassle who deserves a pike rammed up his hairy arse – but that’s another, altogether more offline, story.

For me, as soon as I’m awake, that’s it, I’m awake, I can’t turn over and snooze, I have to get up. So I did, I was out of the house by seven, and at work by half past. Whilst I know that it’s not motivation, but a full bladder and an inability to snooze that makes me do this, being in early always makes me feel virtuous, I unlocked the offices, turned the alarm off, got the kettle on, walked around the office whistling a happy tune, went to the toilet and was still doing my trousers up whilst walking down the corridor – you can do that when you’re first in, and at any other time if you absent minded as me.

What’s more there’s little traffic on the road which begs the question, who said we work longer hours nowadays, it always seem to me that that roads and trains clog up between 8am-9am and then again between 5pm-6pm even though we’re all supposed to be working 15 hour days and don’t see the sunlight for weeks on end.

I started working, four emails before 8am, six before half past, each one sent with increasing self congratulations; “I bet when the person checks out when this was sent they’ll be impressed”.

About 8.40 the door went again, somebody drives in harbouring smug satisfaction that they will be the first in. They’re crushed as they see my car, with the engine cold as ice, sitting in the car park. What’s more it’s the same person who left me to lock up last night. I know what they’re thinking; “Wow he’s been working all night, and look how fresh he is, he’s such an unstoppable juggernaut, imagine how fertile he is”.

The office door rattles open and shut as 9am approaches, our MD chooses today to come in a little later, by this point I’ve already sent him two emails (check out when they were sent, and don’t fuck with me come pay rise time).

My second coffee is at 9.45, I’ve scratched off four things from my To Do list. By 10 I’ve cleared up two more queries. By 10.30, I’m making another coffee, by eleven I’m surfing the web, by 11.30 I’m writing a blog entry, It’s nearly twelve, I don’t have lunch until 1.30, I could see whose updated their blogs, but I just... Feel. So. Tired.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Hot in herre

We went to the Thames Valley Youth Games to see Emma’s class play tag rugby as representatives of their district on Saturday. It was a major event with 3,000 kids playing about 15 different sports, including Boccia, which is likely to be some kind of hybrid sport using moulded plastic bats that were featured on Blue Peter, but we never found out.

The constant theme of people who talked to me surrounded why I’d been ‘dragged’ there. Giving all those tawdry and tired ‘under the thumb’ jokes of “Did she give you the choice of this or DIY?” or “You just take orders you don’t ask questions”.

This is all very difficult when you actually wanted to be there. There are worse things to do on a Saturday than sit in the sun on Eton’s playing fields watching sport.

The team did well winning two with displays of fast free flowing passing, which is something I hadn’t expected of either the game or 10 year old kids. Unfortunately they lost the crucial third match to a team who were better than everyone else by some margin (and subsequently according to the blinkered parents – a load of cheats).

The sun blazed down, which had its drawbacks as we got burnt to a crisp. Emma was so busy ensuring the kids had slapped on the factor ten she neglected to take her own advice. I also got burnt but I think my Barcelona bronzing helped set off the redness a little.

Another fine mess

Penny’s birthday couldn’t have had a better setting, or better weather. Out on the balcony of Doggets Badge and Coat overlooking Blackfriars Bridge we enjoyed the sun setting on The City as we drank Pimms and £4 glasses of Hoegaarden.

We DJ’ed, Simon played some smooth deep house to soundtrack the setting sun, and then I came on at the point when people probably wanted to dance and generally cocked things right up. In mitigation the volume control on the French windows didn’t help. With the area being residential, when the doors were closed the volume went up, with people constantly traversing from the bar to the balcony via the doors this made it practically impossible to cue records up. But it wasn’t just that, I was just a little too drunk. At one stage I managed to take a record off that was still playing – something I’ve only ever done when DJ-ing in public, never, ever at home. My worst home DJ-ing moment was when, 45 minutes into a recorded mix, Peanut the cat decided that records were interesting and jumped up to stop it turning. Great fun for cats.

I have learnt to pack a small number of party standbys for times like this and it wasn’t long before my patented Neptunes Production Half Hour had people swaying a little. Many thanks to Beyonce, Nelly, Britney, Justin and, of course N*E*R*D, for getting me out of a hole.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Emma's crazy timetable

It’s the end of the school term next week and Emma is packing up her kids ready for the big school. Whilst the kids wind down, Emma’s timetable has cranked up. On Monday she attend a meeting to discuss a parent who last week accused her of being unprofessional because Emma told her class “She just wanted to get in her car and go home”. Given that she said this 10 months ago I'm sure you'll agree it was clearly a matter of some urgency. It, of course, had nothing to do with the fact the woman's little girl recently had a tantrum in front of all the parents after a school trip. This was Emma's fault you see, she's unprofessional.

The women has been backtracking ever since as the issue has been escalated up to the Governers. She stubbornly stands by her accusation of unprofessionalism, but claims the view is in no way a reflection on Emma's teaching ability. The term 'UH?!' springs to mind. She also said that “Hindsight is something that none of us possess” – which is fine, except we all have hindsight, just no foresight. Clearly a women to be listened to.

That safely negotiated, and with the Governers fully behind her, Tuesday and Wednesday was the school play, a harrowing depiction of life in World War 2. I went with Nobby, Vicki, Katie and Gareth on Tuesday. Our appearance caused a furour, they were even asking for my autograph. Then things turned nasty as the kids wanted to know, rather forcefully, why I hadn’t been to their Peter Pan play, and why I wouldn't be going to the school disco.

Thursday was Area Sports, a kind of Olympics for all the local schools. It’s been going for years, I remember when I was at primary school kids who were picked for Area Sports were Da Bomb.

Saturday is a Tag Rugby tournament in Eton, somehow I’ve been press ganged into going to that (well, I'm not going to the school disco see). I’m hoping for a sunny day in a field with a pile of newspapers and Harry Potter.

Next week is the school disco that I'm not going to. Emma's dreading it because she’s just done The Puberty Video, described in our house as Emma's sex video. Now they’re all sex mad, in fact a week or so ago packing up after sports day was delayed because one of the boys claimed to be having "Women trouble".

No wonder teachers get six weeks off for the summer.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Donkman and the phantom

Gareth and his mates have a relationship based on a tight cycle of piss take and mild violence. Whilst Tim slept off his sleepless night in Barcelona airport on Sunday, Gareth poured water over his crotch and plucked his leg hair. At one point in the weekend I watched Tim and Gareth take turns to kick each other. As with all banal repetition, it’s very funny.

Donkman is part of the gang, the one your parents want you to be, he’s polite, bright, successful and friendly. He sent his girlfriend flowers whilst he was away “just because”, and he took time from the drinking onslaught to pick a present for her. He’s often a target for the abuse, partly because he takes it so well but also because he’s so gullible, the story of Donkman and the Phantom may illustrate this.

Donkman worked on the fish counter in Waitrose whilst he was at school. One day the phone rang, he answered and at the other end someone was someone breathing heavily and then the line went dead. Then again, ring, ring, heavy breathing, and line went dead. Over and over again.

His intuition was right; he accused Gareth and Tim but they denied it and to put him off the scent set up a ruse whereby Gareth would talk to Donkman whilst Tim nicked off to the phone. Then vice versa. On this basis Donkman wrote them off his list of suspects.

The calls continued, for weeks, months, and years, the caller was nicknamed The Phantom. Donkman would shout down the phone “I’ll get you Phantom, I’ll find out who you are”.

On one occasion, the Phantom called and Donkman could hear Tim in the background talking. Instantly he rushed over to where Tim was working, but rather than accuse him again, he asked him who had been on the nearby phone, Tim said he hadn’t seen, and Donkman went off on another wild goose chase.

Donkman inexplicably accused a girl in his German class, who also worked at Waitrose. As his desperation set in, the accusation crossed the line into bullying. It got out of hand and he had to explain to the teachers the reason for his actions.

Eventually two and a half years later, over a few lagers on a lads holiday in Magaluf, Tim and Gareth came clean. They were the Phantom who for years had haunted his Fish Counter with their heavy breathing.

The only thing that hadn’t been cleared up was why Donkman exacted so much of his venom on the girl. Walking from the cable car in Barca he explained.

“She was the only person who wasn’t Gareth and Tim with the same shift pattern as me.”

Monday, July 07, 2003

What goes on tour, stays on tour

Due to the Law of the Stag, I’m mandated to not to tell you what on at Gareth’s stag weekend in Barcelona, so here are a few of the things that didn’t happen.

  • Nobody fell asleep in a porn cinema within three hours of arriving and got lost for six hours trying to find the hotel.
  • The stag didn’t at any point have to drink a pint with nine shots in it
  • Nobody dipped their willy in someone else’s pint whilst they were in the toilet, then got mixed up and drunk it himself
  • Nobody gave the stag a wedgie which tore his thick cotton boxer shorts clean off
  • No one fell into a water hazard on a roof top crazy golf course in front of six security guards
  • Nobody was ceremoniously dipped into the same roof top crazy golf course water hazard two days later.
  • This also wasn’t in front of six security guards
  • Nobody went to a strip bar, paid £14 to get it, £10 for a beer, then negotiated with a stripper to do a dance for £85, thanking her for giving them a discount by buying her a drink for £20
  • Not one of that party of four claimed it was his birthday and subsequently enjoyed a majority of the dance
  • Nobody got the stag to drink ten shots in a row, an endeavour illegal in this country
  • Nobody ‘thanked’ the best man Tim by buying him five shots, singing the theme song Tim’ll Fix It, whilst he drank them.
  • Nobody dreamt up that the best man should have a “Best Man’s Favourite” which meant he should drink three shots of Absinthe
  • Nobody who was over six foot three with the bulk of a body builder rode a children’s ride whilst others bought food from a supermarket
  • Nobody bought the stag a vile looking vodka and baileys which curdled and separated
  • At no point after he finished it, did we get a round of vodka and baileys for everyone because it was so nice
  • Nobody called out to a German who had just hired the services of a prostitute on Las Ramblas “She’ll make you pay for it you know, she doesn’t love you”
  • Nobody, being constantly propositioned by prostitutes whilst everyone walked back to the hotel shouted “Prossies make me laugh!”
  • Nobody threw themselves off the Marina into the sea at six in the morning as the result of a bet, despite having seen big fish and jelly fish earlier in the weekend
  • Nobody built a quasi religion around “The Curb of Apparent Doom”
  • Nobody fell over the “Incline of semi-embarrassment”
  • Nobody engaged in conversation with a German with man breasts who asked “Are you from the Techno Conference”, to which was replied “No but you are”
  • Nobody accidentally bought forty-two drinks for six people
  • Nobody bullied an Irish band to play for twenty minutes more than they were booked by continuously chanting “One more tune”, then, when they eventually packed up, booed them off
  • Nobody tried to proposition a prostitute with free Tequila shot vouchers from a bar
  • Nobody when asked whether they were coming to Guadi’s unfinished cathedral, said “Tell them I’ll come when it’s finished”
  • Nobody, in a conversation about ‘having your brown wings’, claimed to have his white wings, explaining to the blank faces it was “Sleeping with a girl with a uterus infection”
  • No one, not even Banno, sent a text message to his wife Clare saying “We think International Team Banno are the business”
  • She didn’t reply with a message saying “Great. We’re watching a video tonight, love you C.”
  • The Stag didn’t at any point jump to his feet offering the bemused waiter high tens every time he brought out another bowel of tapas shouting “Yaaah TAPAS!”
  • Nobody told someone we were having an non-existent olive eating competition and the record was fifteen, then forced that person, who hates olives with a sickness, to break the record.
  • Nobody, not even the same person as above, asked what happened to the name game we were playing in a restaurant when our food was served. Despite the game having died on its arse, at no point were they told it was their go. At no point did he without blinking start to drink whilst thinking up his name. At no point was he told that every subsequent name he came up with had ‘been done before’. At no point did he continue to struggle for at least ten to fifteen minutes.
  • The stag didn’t have a twenty minute rage about how you couldn’t “catch a hotel in this country”, when he meant a taxi.
  • Nobody, whilst lost at five in the morning accosted a couple of Belgian girls with a map waving his arms shouting “Parlez vous Francais”
  • Nobody downgraded the word C**t to a “category b swearword”
  • This conversation didn’t happen: -
  • “What time are we going out? About 11.30?”
  • “Fuck off you c**t, 11.30!? Quarter past”
  • Nobody fell asleep in the departure lounge toilets whilst the plane was boarding
  • Nobody woke up surrounded by sick on his bed, and then deny it was his.
  • Nobody said that he was disappointed that the last night ended a bit early, at 5.30 in the morning
  • Nobody stole every towel apart from a flannel from someone’s room whilst he showered, he didn’t then come out and walk around the corridors trying to find it
  • Nobody told an American that he hated the Swiss because they were “hoarding Hitler’s Gold”
  • Nobody tried to wave away a persistent flower seller by raising his arms and saying “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”
  • Nobody knows how the long stay car park works at Gatwick Airport

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

She's just Vicki on the blog

Nobby can’t work the new Blogger interface, Simon’s too busy adventuring, Michelle Ineffable is heavily ensconced in writing her dissertation, and Jo Who’s Quintessentially Steppenwolf is still spinning out from Glasters.

I need blogs fill the white spaces in my day, but there’s a dearth of posts on my regular blog tour. Why oh why do these people insist on having lives?

I thought I was going to have to rely on Nobby accidentally stumbling across the ‘publish’ button from time to time. His confusion around new Blogger is rather like the old man with his video camera who manages to get the stop/start button the wrong way round and films four hours of grass, then just as he lifts the camera to focus in on something interesting, turns it off.

My void has been filled with the launch of Vicki Dobscrub’s pregnancy blog. I feel strangely paternal towards Vicki anyway, so it’s reassuring that I can keep myself abreast how things are progressing. This is despite the fact I’m almost certain Nobby won’t let me within six square miles of the baby once it is born.

I’m also delighted to report that Vicki can write, and has captured with some aplomb what it’s like taking Nobby to a public place, things can only get better.

Lesleywatch 2003 - unfathomably a true story

Emma’s Mum, Lesley, and her dad went on holiday to France last week. Whilst they were there France enjoyed thunderstorms and lightening. Lesley phoned Sara and Gareth back home to ask them to go up to her house and check the computer hadn’t set fire.

Gareth, rubbing Aftersun onto his burnt skin and drinking a litre of iced water as Britain enjoyed its dry sunny spell, asked why.

“Well” said Lesley “We’ve had terrible thunderstorms (in France) and I’m worried that the house (in Britain) may get struck by lightening.”

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

A Sunday blissed

Despite getting back from Melissa’s wedding at 1.30am, we were up at 8.00 to hold a dog. Dark Charlie, who I used to work with at the little publishing company in Oxford, was running the Thame 10KM with his mate Andrew. His dog, Wire, needed holding.

Once we were out of bed and out of the door it was nice to be in the sun. We met up with Charlie with surprising ease. Wire was slightly over excited, except when Charlie walked off, when he would whimper forlornly. The race kicked off and we headed for the finish line.

Simon, home for the weekend to ride in a helicopter, joined us as the runners started coming in, then my mum arrived to promote her own 10K race in Tetsworth, with dad, Kirsty and Sophie in tow.

Sophie enjoyed playing with Wire, as fifty-one week old babies do, by trying to grab his ears or better still, his tongue. After we finished, mum, dad, Kirsty and Sophie went home and, with it still too early for the pub, we went to the Coffee shop in town to sit in their sunny courtyard, ahem, alleyway, drinking coffee. Katie arrived back from Central America, well, not right then, just that was her last known whereabouts and joined us.

After a chat, sun, and coffee, Charlie, Wire and Andrew made for home, me, Emma, Simon, and Katie went to the pub for more sun, and chat, and drink. Having safely negotiated this, we went back to mum and dad’s for a bar-b-que where, for variation, we sat in the shade until the early evening.

Everyday should be like that.

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