Friday, January 29, 2010

I know what you did last Winter

I know it's late, but I have been doing my own review of last year. A year with more hi and low lights than George Michael's hair in the Wham days. Anyone that reads these blogs or follows my Twitter feed can oft lay the 'Too Much Information' tag at my door, but I didn't tell you everything, well not yet anyway.

One of the biggest things I forgot to mention was that we moved house, a most traumatic experience at the best of times, and by God I wish we had picked the best of times. Instead, we picked the week before Christmas to move, the day after it started snowing, the day the kids broke up from school. Nothing like a challenge to get the blood pressure going. The move itself deserves a full blog devoted to it, but every time I try, my left eye starts twitching and won't stop until I mainline some Jack Daniels. Maybe one day, when the wound is not so raw, I will write it, give it another 14 years I reckon.

Don't get me wrong I love the new house, it has 3 toilets, the importance of this will become clear in a minute, a brand new kitchen, and a conservetory consevotery lean to (too many vowels, not enough time). All the kids have their own bedroom now, so I am looking forward to some sleep for the first time in five years. Unfortunately I got a fairly bad case of what I thought was food poisoning on the second day. Never has the extravagance of lots of toilets been such a practical blessing. Whilst everyone else has been discovering all the different nooks and crannies of the house, I have been discovering which toilet seat fits my arse the best. I also discovered that the previous owners must have been made out of a bendy rubber type substance, as you have to have arms growing out of your back to reach any of the toilet roll holders.

A few weeks later I was talking to my Brother-in-law about how ill I still was. He sympathised as apparently he had gone through the same thing three weeks before, then his work colleague had it, then his best mate Scooby (don't ask). His next statement was said with a straight face and no sense of irony, "There just doesn't seem to be any kind of common denominator." No mate, none at all, well none other than YOU, the man now to be referred to as 'The Sickness Reaper'.

As bad as the sickness was, I didn't let it curtail my drinking habits, especially on New Year's Eve. God, now that I'm a year older the hangovers seem to be a year worse. Although I've not yet found one I haven't been able to drink my way out of. New Years Day found me setting up camp in the toilet with a sink next to it, armed with only a book and a bottle of wine. Start the year as you mean to go on I say. I even invented a new word as I was sitting there contemplating the meaning of life (the answer to which is, buy more towels).

TANKERED (adj.) the state of being between getting tanked, and getting wankered. For use in polite circles.

Now I just have to find out the procedure for getting it into the Oxford dictionary, and how much they are going to pay me for it. Fame and fortune will be mine I tell you.

One of the other downsides to the move was losing my broadband for what was meant to be seven days, but ended up being 37 (see my letter to Rupert Murdoch on that score). I should have taken this opportunity to get some writing done without the distraction of Twitter and YouTube, but I didn't. I couldn't even bear to turn the PC on. It was the geek version of having a really hot girlfriend at the wrong time of month, pointless. I still had my iPhone, so I wasn't completely cut off from the world. I even developed modern day insanity, in which I would send myself emails instead of talking to myself.

I did end up doing a lot more Housebitch stuff, although that was more prompted by a comment made by my eldest, Dawn, than any sense of new house pride. On returning from school one day, she enquired as to whether the broadband was up and running yet. When I answered in the reproducing negative, she asked (with some concern I hasten to add) what I had been doing all day without the PC. I somewhat stupidly/hastily replied, "Loads, do you think this house cleans itself?" To her credit she did not burst into laughter, but the way her eyes darted left and right, surveying the pig-sty of a front room, betrayed her real thoughts.

I now have a garage as well as a shed, so I now have two places to hide my secret stash of beer. I have even given the beers their own code name, DW40. So when I am using WD40 to oil the squeakiest doors in the world, I can use DW40 to get well oiled myself. I have also found a light switch in one of the cupboards under the stairs (one is going to become Mate's punishment dungeon) that does not appear to lead to anything. I have visions of the neighbours TV turning on and off every time I flick it, which is a lot now I've had that thought.

Of course my normal way of dealing with the kids was thrown upside-down with the Wife having two weeks off. Our parenting routine is less Good Cop/Bad Cop and more Amnesty International Worker/African Despot. Every time I say "No" to Mate, he cries so hard it always produces the 'what have you done to him' look. I normally only have to put up with it at the weekends, but two weeks was murder. By the time January came around, the cocky little bugger was running the place, all with an indulgent smile from his Mum.

The year did end on a sad note, with the death of a very close and important friend. Our Sky+ box with its 90% full memory of all my favourite films, and half watched TV series', departed this world for tech heaven. The tears were flowing as I begged the Sky engineer to do something, anything. Eventually the life support was turned off, and the plug pulled out of the socket. I felt like I had been stabbed in the guts. Farewell old friend, I will miss you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Favourite Photo Meme

An oft used phrase is 'Great minds think alike'. I would like to add a slight addendum to that, 'Sadistic minds think alike'. The lovely, colourful, and slightly twisted bloggers that are Insomniac Mummy, La Beet, and The Dotterel have all tagged me with the 'Favourite Photo Meme'. I would like to think that they asked me because they love the self depreciating and modest humour of my blog, but I rather suspect they had the 'Shit, I need to think of some names to pass this on to' blind panic. I am thinking of renaming my blog site 'Zoo's line is it anyway', so in future dodging the meme lists by being at the end of their reading lists. All jokes aside, would leave me with nothing to say, so I will continue in this vein.

My first photo is one from one of my most recent surreal days. I was going to say most surreal day, but that prize would go to the day I missed a plane coming home from my Brother-in-law's house in Germany. There was a huge traffic jam on the way to the airport and we started to do the 'missing the plane' panic. Stephen had a theory that all the roads ending in an even number ran horizontal, all the odd ones ran vertical. Using this theory, and without a map, he attempted to leap frog the jam. It's hard to judge if this theory was correct, or if it even worked, but we did miss the plane so I'm going to answer in the negative.

The Airport was one of those dodgy ones that was nowhere near the actual city it pretended to be. In fact, it was just an aircraft hanger on an old deserted Army base. It had a portacabin toilet, and when you (eventually) handed your luggage over, it was between a hole in a corrugated plastic wall, with a pair of hands the other side. In one corner of this massive hanger there was a vending machine, but that was it for facilities. The next plane was not for another 10 hours, so we decided to get a cab into the nearest town and waste the day there.

It is at this point in the story that I should probably introduce my fellow travellers that day. There was my good self, a staunch atheist, almost rabid in my hatred of all things holy once there is a drink inside me. My Wife the good catholic, her brother the lip-service catholic, his wife the God knows what, and finally the person the Pope rings up when he has a theology question, the Mother-in-law.

The first thing we saw when arriving, was a huge cathedral/church. The second thing we saw were Nuns, loads of them, hundreds. I felt like a Lion wandering the Serengeti in amongst a herd of unsuspecting Zebra. There was row after row of shops all selling holy candles, candles so big you could use them as pillars. Holy pictures of Jesus in every pose known to catholic-kind, except that really funky double thumbs up one. Then there was a sea of brown cassocked monks, steadfastly avoiding eye contact with all the nuns, lest an explosion of pent up lust occurred.

I had to spend the day in this place and I had no idea how I was going to cope, then I saw a bar and my prayers were answered. I started to drink like my life depended on it, and the others joined me, the place was just too damned creepy. I'm not sure I could ever do justice to how funny that day became, I seem to remember just laughing all day, but can't think of many reasons why. We hid from my BIL every time he went to the toilet, I attempted to get my photo taken with as many Nuns as possible, and I rinsed beer out of my hair in one of the church's fountains, all juvenile stuff I know. Anything to pass the time, we even made a song up called 'Welcome to the nightmare Niederrhein' to the tune of Hotel California.

Anyway, I can only find one photo from that day, and I'm smoking in it, and as I gave up three years ago and still miss it, the picture makes me sad so can't count.

The most recent surreal day was the day we had a power cut that lasted all day and into the night. Just me and the two little ones, the whole story is at 'Your Worst Nightmare' on this here blog. So here is a photo from that day.

This is my favourite photo though, has no real interesting story to it, hence the above babble you had to wade through just to get here. I used to own a pub in East London and every summer I booked a big 16 piece Swing band called Harry Martin and the London Swingfonia. Martin is a mate of ours and would oft hang around afterwards for a few beers. He had left his microphone set up and my then one year old daughter decided to give us her best Liam Gallagher impersonation and started singing.

OK now to my victims, in alphabetical order of course:

Are we nearly there yet Mummy?
Brits in Bosnia
I'll think of a title later
Musings of a Geriatric Mummy
W.M. Morrell's musings from Down Under

Good luck.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A lot can happen in 40 years

It's my Mum and Dad's 40th wedding anniversary this weekend. Forty years, man that's a hell of a long time, two years longer than I've been on this earth. Which is a good job really, I'd hate to be known as a proper bastard.

In 40 years the UK has had 8 Prime ministers and the Americans have had 8 Presidents. The Italians have had 25, whilst poor old Libya is still on the same one.
The population of the UK was 55 million, and with Mum and Dad's partial help, has risen to 61 million, busy bunnies.

In 1970 Simon and Garfunkel topped the charts, in 2010 it will probably be Jedward. In 1970 our Saturday night TV was about to be dominated by Bruce Forsyth, and well, the less said about 2010 the better.

In 1970 America were in the middle of an unwinnable war in a country that didn't want them there. In 2010 they still haven't learnt anything. In 1970 the kids were demanding 'Peace not Action'. In 2010 they just want a piece of the action

In 1970 they started producing Refrigerators that made ice. In 2010 we have realised those same Refrigerators are melting the ice caps. In 1970 a young couple in Barking were planting bulbs and sowing seeds. In 2010 the bulbs are still being planted, and my brain makes me stop that thought there.

In that time we have lost Elvis and gained Joe McElderry.
We have lost the Rat Pack and gained the Brat Pack.
We have lost James Dean and gained Colin Farrell.
We have lost Morecombe and Wise and gained Ant or Dec.
We have lost Opportunity Knocks and gained The X-Factor.
We have lost Nina Simone and gained Lady Gaga.
We have lost George Best and gained David Beckham.
We have lost John Lennon and gained Robbie Williams.
We have lost my nappies being changed and gained me changing nappies.

Who said change was good? Although to be fair, we have also swapped the Bay City Rollers for Take That, and Flares for Boot Cut Jeans, so it's not all bad.

In amongst all the change, trials and tribulations that the world has gone through, this young couple have gone through their own seismic changes. Two people, one from the wrong side of the tracks, the other most at home there. They have somehow managed to stay together, love each other, and bring up three kids. Fair enough, one of them was me, but the other two have turned out OK. I recently mentioned in passing that if one of them had killed the other, they would have been paroled by now. I hope it didn't give them pause for thought, like I said, the other two turned out OK.

So in their typical style there will be no big celebrations this weekend, no huge party, no extravagant gifts (we're not tight, just under orders). We will all go and join them Sunday afternoon for a few drinks, well quite a few drinks probably. Just us kids, our kids, and maybe the gerbil if Kaede gets her way. Forty years will turn into 40 years and a day, with only a hangover and a load of empties to remind us. It's their way.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Please Sir, can I have my ball back?

Dear Rupert Murdoch,
I know you are a busy man, what with trying to devise a plan for worldwide domination that James Bond would actually be interested in thwarting (eventually), but I think I may be of assistance.
Threatening to shock your customers to death by actually supplying them with the service they are paying for, is the way to go. I know it sounds so far-fetched that it could only be a film 20th Century Fox would produce, but if you check your back pockets I'm sure you will find the Fox Group back there somewhere.
I know your current plan includes controlling all the world's news outlets and visual media, but I have personal insider knowledge of a fatal flaw in your plans. Glen Beck aside, if you want people to believe your version of the news, then surely they have to be able to access it?
Let's take a random person, in a random place. I don't know, say me, for arguments sake. I live in a little village called London, in tiny old England. You own a few newspapers that are based here, 'The Sun' and 'The Times' are two of them, in case your memory needs jogging. I realise we are not as economically viable as countries like Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, but you invested here in the past, so presumably we still figure on your radar. Well in my case I am unable to access the Sky Broadband Service (don't you just hate oxy-morons, or do you just employ them?) you provide. Apparently it takes one month and six days for your company to move this 'service' from my old address, even though I have only moved 10 minutes down the road and not to Rwanda.
Sorry to digress, but what's with the 37 days anyway, why not 36 or 38? Is it that 37 is the highest prime number you could think of, and that you are subliminally suggesting a new book to Dan Brown?
Anyway, back to my point. Despite my numerous phone calls to your third world call centres in India and Scotland, and the effort involved in trying to understand their regional dialects, I am still unable to view your online news bias news feed. I must admit though, I have managed to set up a system that has enabled me to absorb your Internet news effluence. I got hold of the longest piece of string I could find, and attatched a tin-can to each end. My kindly new neighbour across the road now updates me with all the breaking news and gossip from (well he does when he remembers to pull the string tight enough and shout.)
I can now truly say I am online, well onwashingline actually. And before you think of stealing my ingenious idea, I have patented the concept of having the world's first Internet provider that can also get your washing dry and fresh smelling.
You have now left me with no option but to propose a deal that may be to your liking. You provide me with the ability to tweet with my friends, and not have to write my blog on a piece of paper like I am doing now (seriously, you should see the ink stains on my fingers, how Shakespeare coped I will never know). In return, I promise to continue to watch The Simpsons and say "Doh" every time I do something wrong, which is more times than you could imagine.
I know you are a canny Businessman, and I truly believe you will see the sense of this deal.
Yours un-electronically