Friday, August 20, 2010

The Wedding Tweeter

I’ve started my own business, I’ve found a gap in the market and I’ve dived in like a Messerschmitt on speed. I have become the World’s first Wedding Tweeter, or should that be Twedding Tweeter? Why do the inhabitants of Twitter world insist on putting a ‘tw’ in front of words to make them twitterfied? I mean we are a persecuted bunch as it is, all our non tweeting friends think we’re stupid or narcissistic anyway. They don’t understand Twitter, so let’s not make it worse tweople.

Anyway, my concept is that with so many people belong to social networking sites now, be it facebook, twitter or BLAH BLAH (ask your kids), they actually start to consider their on-line friends to be real friends. Not real enough to waste a wedding invite on obviously, especially at £110 per head and rising, but real enough to want to share their special day with.

This is where I come in. For a small fee plus a free bar at the reception, I will provide the following services.

1. Set up a Twitter account for the lovely couple, i.e. @DesperateAndRichGetMarried. They can now distribute this account amongst their friends, and add worrying about their follower count to the list of things keeping them awake at night. This list includes hoping Uncle Malcolm hasn’t fallen off the wagon again, assigning an usher to steal his drinks if he has, and wondering is the missionary the traditional wedding night position or would the reverse cowgirl be OK?

2. I will then use your account to keep all your followers up to date with the proceedings. This would look a bit like the following (excerpts taken from @BaldingAndFlabbyGetMarried).
  • The @groom is looking nervous. Not sure what he is regretting more, having the stag night last night or the pink tie.
  • Just spotted @Bestman being sick in the font. Hope nobody is being baptised tomorrow.
  • Nice save, @Usher1 has found and confiscated @UncleMalcolm’s hip flask.
  • Sneaky @UncleMalcolm has a sock flask, this won’t end well.
  • The @GroomsFather and @GroomsFathersNewGirlfriend are arguing with @GroomsMother and @GroomsMothersToyboy over the seating arrangements.
  • Compromise found. @GroomsFather and @GroomsMother on front row, @GroomsFathersNewGirlfriend and @GroomsMothersToyboy on row 2.
  • Oh dear, the @Vicar is getting impatient now, @Groom checks watch again, @Bestman makes a phone call to bookie
  • Action at the back of the church, @Bride has arrived, report on dress to follow.
  • Dress is a beautiful flowing white number, unfortunately it looks like the number 8.
  • On the positive side, at least she has managed to fit in it, looks like the ‘being sick for a week’ diet has worked.
  • RT @BitchyUninvitedWorkColleague Her dress looks like it contains a bag of ferrets fighting to escape
  • RT @JealousExBoyfriend White, are you having a laugh, ask @Usher2 about the time that we (the following has been edited in the name of good taste)
  • Preliminaries under way, hymns, blah blah, why are these things so long, just cut to the chase @Vicar.
  • Really should have used the toilet before I came in.
  • Really shouldn’t have tweeted that.
  • A nervous silence as @Vicar asks is there any reason that they should not be married.
  • Several heads are shamefully looking at the floor, including @Usher2 @CousinJimmy and @GroomsSister
  • Phew, everybody remains silent and the deed is done.
  • It’s official. Congratulations to @MrandMrsGoatsbottom
  • RT @SlowWorkmate So that’s why we call him Ivor. I always wondered about that
  • Time for the final prayer. Top prank by @Bestman as the soles of @grooms shoes reveal the words HELP and ME.
  • Prank backfire. It appears the @Bestman does not know his left from right as the shoes read ME HELP.
  • In the name of good taste @GroomsFathersNewGirlfriend and @GroomsMothersToyboy have been excluded from official photo line-ups.
  • In the name of bad taste @GroomsFathersNewGirlfriend and @GroomsMothersToyboy have sneaked into presbytery for a quick grope.
  • Just enough time for all males to check their phones for the footy scores.
  • Just enough time for all females to reapply their make up with a trowel.
  • Time for the reception and a well earned pint.
  • Bucks Fizz, are you having a laugh, when will people learn?
  • Tweeting interrupted to help guests find the real bar, hopefully one that has a TV showing Gillette Soccer Saturday
  • Time for speeches, these will be abbreviated due to restrictions of 140 characters.
  • Wish the real ones had those restrictions.
  • From @FatherOfBride Lame joke, childhood mishaps, welcome to family, serious bit, dead grandmother, tears, lame joke, ushered into seat
  • From @Groom Drunken sweats, My Wife and I, applause, lame joke, nervous glances to Wife, drops notes, finishes abruptly
  • From @Bestman Slurred, dubious content, bad taste joke about sheep, worse taste joke about @Usher2, nervous looks all round, falls over
  • Well that’s that then folks, hope you enjoyed the wedding. Don’t forget to log in for the reception (over 18’s only)

3. Using TwitPic (or y.frog if you consider yourself a princess), I will post beautiful pictures of all the momentous moments, as they happen. These will be slightly blurry as I will be using my iPhone, but your friends will just think you have hired a pretentious photographer straight out of art school, so that’s OK.

4. Via I will let your friends listen to all the great tunes your wedding DJ is playing including your first dance. Unless of course your first song is ‘Angel’ by Robbie Twilliams, in this case I will change it to ‘Smack my Bitch up’ by the Prodigy. You will then either look retro cool or just ironic, depending on how many of your S&M loving details you accidentally tweeted about when drunk.

5. Supply a framed A4 wordcloud of the days, and evenings if readable, tweets. All done tastefully in black and white, in the classic Goudy Bookletter 1911 font.

I think I’m onto a winner here, I’m even thinking of franchising it out for a small fee of course. Bookings are now being taken and the weekends are being snapped up fast. For all enquires re payment plans or deletion of dubious photos, please contact me at the or by comment at this blog.

This time next year I’ll be a millionaire, or in prison.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The road to Hell (Michigan)

This week, undoubtedly fuelled by being trapped indoors by the rain with only the kids for screaming company, I decided I wanted to become a Travel Writer. Not one of those ones that visit Venice and remark that they found the quaintest little coffee shop just behind the third piazza on the right. And I definitely did not want to be one of the ones that wrote ‘Ten rambles through the Salisbury plains’ either.

I wanted to be like Bill Bryson, actually I think I wanted to be Bill Bryson. I wanted to visit places like Buttsville (Pennsylvania) just to see how many arseholes lived there. I had to see if there was a Dentist in Snaggletooth (California). I wanted to know how demanding the ladies were in Iron Knob (South Australia). Would Dissapointment (Kentucky) really be one? And I really, really needed to know what they drank out of on Whisky Dick Mountain (Washington). That was it, I had made up my mind, I was doing it.

My wife, once she had stopped laughing at me however, had other ideas. What about the children, who was going to look after them whilst I was off gallivanting in search of funny sounding places? A good question, as much as it pained me to admit it. Sod it, I would take them with me, although that would rule out visiting Titty Hill (England), as what was the point if I had the kids with me?

They are actually easier to control in the car anyway, they’re locked in place for starters, and if their noise got to be too much I would unleash the secret weapon. Normally I’m only allowed to have the car stereo’s volume at a maximum of 14, and only that loud if it’s a track the wife particularly likes. But I have discovered (when she was at work of course) that if I play Marilyn Manson as loud as 19, the kids kind of go into a trance, all slack jawed and silent. Works every time. She also said we had to be back by tea time, which seriously put paid to my plans of visiting Twatt in (all of) Scotland.

I decided to visit Butts Green (Essex), the kids spend so much time rolling around the grass anyway, and it was only 35 miles from home. I packed a bag full of healthy snacks and drinks, as well as a big bag of sweets to help with the bribery. I had my notebook, two pens and a Valium so I was set and we were ready to go.

We managed to get to the top of the road before the five year old informed me that she was busting for the toilet. My eldest is 16 for God’s sake, you would have thought that I had been in this game long enough to make the kids go to the toilet before we left. Then again, I’ve been carrying a wallet since I was 16 and after we had dealt with all things toilet and re-departed, we had to return again to pick that up.

The only excuse I can offer for having to return a third time is that I have only been carrying a mobile phone for a mere ten years, so was bound to have forgotten it given my track record. I’m sure our neighbour, as she waved us off for the fourth time, was starting to think I was trying to catch her stealing my plants or maybe the lid from our bin, as I had noticed hers hadn’t got one.

We hit traffic within 10 minutes, of course we did, why should I expect that anything in my life was going to be plain sailing? The bag of sweets turned out to be sugar-free so they went out of the window. I ask you, what kind of sick mind invents something like that. I bet it was the same kind of idiot that believes in telling children there is no such thing as Father Christmas, as it just perpetuates the commercialism of the birth of Jesus, or some such lily livered tree hugging codswallop. I was not happy, and obviously nor were the kids, they can smell a phoney a mile off.

I went to put the Marilyn Manson CD on but it was missing from the case, this was dire. I made a frantic phone call to the Wife to see if she had moved it, she had. Apparently me picking her up from church every Sunday, blasting Mr Manson’s version of ‘Personal Jesus’ had been deemed inappropriate. I do have a history of allegedly playing the wrong song at the wrong time though. Whenever the Mother in Law starts to leave our house after another visit, I have a habit of blasting ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on the stereo. Some people just can’t take a joke, and now the joke was on me.

I tried to fob them off with raisins but that only resulted in a food fight, which then obviously ruled out giving them an apple. The last thing I needed was to be hit with one of them whilst driving at 50 mph. That was of course if we ever got to go any faster than the tortoise mph that we were currently doing. Thirty minutes later I gave in, and turned the car around in defeat.

As we pulled up and trudged out of the car, my neighbour asked me what I had forgotten this time. With a sigh I replied “I forgot that you don’t have to go to Michigan to visit Hell.” She gave me a quizzical look, put the lid on her bin, and scurried into her house.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I don't love Cricket, I like it

As I write, it’s a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon and I’m on my way to a cricket match. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t know the difference between a googly and a silly mid off, and the nuances of a Seamer or a Yorker are lost on me, but I had won the tickets and I tend not to look gift horses in the mouth. Thank goodness I’m not going to a test match then. A game that lasts five days without a result is not my idea of fun. I have friends that love the slow pace and nothingness of the game, but whenever I ask them what the appeal is the most common reply is that it’s a great day out and a good beer-up.

Despite the strong allure of sitting in the sun drinking lager all day, the idea that I would have to keep an eye out for a ball that weighs the same as a small child and is as hard as a Duckworth-Lewis calculation seems a step too far on the dangerous side. I mean, if I wanted to combine stupid risks and drinking, I would just go for a beer with my Brother-in-law in the Czech Republic.

Nope, I’m off to the new version of cricket, Twenty20. I know purists hate it, it’s fun, it’s fast and you actually get a result, so you can see their problem with it. Plus all the teams get to dress in bright colours and not those dreary old whites. From the point of view of a person that has to do all the washing at home, I’m anti white anyway. After all, you can’t spray fabreeze on something white when you’ve forgotten to wash it and still pretend it’s clean. With colours I can and often do.

Luckily enough I had won a pair of tickets, so I invited my cricket mad mate JG to come with me. Not only could I pick his brain on cricket law and etiquette, but he was also a booze hound not unlike myself, so he would obviously know the best place to sit. Apparently you need the perfect combination of view and accessibility to the bar. To be quite honest I wasn’t too worried about the view, I was escaping from the kids for the day, so we could have been watching women’s darts for all I cared.

Walking into the ground I was struck by how much quieter the crowd was compared to a football match. I realise that you get a lot less fans at a cricket match, even compared to those small provincial teams like Tottenham, but everything seemed quite jolly and subdued. There was no tension in the air, just a feeling of calculated nonchalance. Missing was the smell of fried onions, instead replaced by a heady mixture of Old Spice and linseed oil.

Beers needed to be procured first, seats second. Those kinds of priorities are ones I am always happy to go along with. As we took our place in a very polite and organised queue, I looked around to take in my surroundings. Above the bar were photos of all the previous Essex Captains, proud, distinguished, moustachioed men. Oh, and Ronnie Irani.

We stepped out of the clubhouse with our pints of Oranjeboom, a lager I thought had disappeared with my milk teeth. I shielded my eyes from the sun and looked out at the pitch, which we were viewing side on. I then had to shield my eyes again as the Middlesex team took to the field to warm up, resplendent in bright pink. I had put my back out the previous day so we decided to stand against the clubhouse wall for a while, the fact that we were standing next to the nearest door to the bar was nothing but mere coincidence.

As I was purchasing my third pint, the teams decided to take to the field and a polite round of applause rippled around the ground, more of a royal wave than a Mexican one. Essex were fielding first, and the fine chap to my right obviously mistook my three pint mellow face for that of a cricket expert. He voiced the opinion that we should open the bowling with someone that was proficient in the art of in-swinging. I voiced the opinion that I had only had a few drinks and it was a bit early to be asking me to throw my keys into the middle of the table. My new friend decided to move elsewhere.

It was towards the end of the innings, and mid pint number six, that I heard the glorious sound of ball hitting willow in the perfect pitch. I knew the ball had been hit for 6 before I even turned around to watch its trajectory. I had been asking the new gentleman standing next to me how much a cricket ball actually weighed, this had become annoyingly important to me as I had had an idea for a blog. The next sound I heard as I struggled to find the balls trajectory, was the noise of something weighing 163 grammes (I googled it in the end) and travelling 60 mph, hitting the brick wall a meter above my head. The ball bounced off the wall and hit the guy 4 rows in front of me in the back of the head.

Despite the shock of a near miss, I still managed to laugh like a loon at the poor bloke, which seemed to be the correct etiquette as everybody else was. I looked up to see the mark where the ball had struck and realised I was standing under the O in ESSEX COUNTY CRICKET. Maybe the opposition were using the circle as target practise, maybe it was a fluke? Either or, I decided to take a couple of steps to the left and stand underneath the Y. I mean, why not?

The innings soon ended and it was half time, or tea. I had stopped caring about the correct terminology by then, and started on the spirits as the pint glasses were becoming too heavy to hold. The Essex innings went by in a bit of a blur. I do remember that the bowler we had been having a pop at had then turned into an excellent batsman, but I may be wrong about that, they all looked the same to me. It all got a bit tense towards the end, I could tell because the crowd had actually started to make a bit of noise. We eventually lost by 11 runs, but apparently it didn’t matter because Surrey or Sussex or Stockbrokers XI, I don’t know which, had also lost so we were through to the next round.

I can’t really remember much about the journey home, although I do know we stopped in a pub before we got on the train. I also know that I was 10 minutes from home at 9pm, yet walked through the door at 11pm? The next morning my head hurt, my only consolation was that it probably didn’t hurt as much as it would have had the ball actually hit it.

In conclusion, the only difference my untrained eye can see between a Twenty20 match and a five day test is that with one you drink all afternoon, and the other you drink for five days. Maybe that’s why they call it a test?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Quest for Knowledge

I’m about to take my first steps towards my long awaited Nobel Prize for Science, and I’m inviting you all to come along with me. Those wonderful folk over at the Science Museum, in my home town of London, are on a quest for knowledge and they want me, and of course you, to help them. Don’t panic, you haven’t got to work out why buttered toast falls slimy side down, why a full nappy weighs twice the amount of the food consumed, or even why ginger (seriously, why though?) So you can stop searching for those old Physics text books in the loft and just answer a simple question.

What makes you smile?

Your answers will all form part of their ‘Who am I?’ gallery, all about what makes you, you. In my case that’s 2 parts Jack Daniels, 1 part coffee, 4 parts body mass, 1 part Oasis lyrics and a tiny smattering of smart arse thrown in for good measure.

Your answers can be written in the comments field of this blog or you can tweet them at @sciencemuseum . You can even send them a video response, well everyone except Paris Hilton as we have already seen what makes her smile.

So to set the ball rolling I had better tell you what makes me smile. I’ve ignored all the obvious ones like an unopened bottle of Tequila and a bag of limes, watching people walk into things and winning an argument with the Wife (only because I can’t remember the last time that particular one happened.)

What I’ve plumped for, is stuff my five year old daughter Kaede says.

We were watching the third parent the other day, let’s pretend it was the Discovery channel and not The Simpsons, when the adverts come on. This particular advert was for dishwasher tabs, the ones with all the wonderful fresh fragrance of forest fresh lemons, and the cleaning power of four below minimum wage illegal immigrants. Kaede turned to me with a wistful look on her face and said “I wish I was a plate.”

Experience has taught me not to then ask her “Why?” The last time I did that her response was “because then I can wee on a trampoline”, and you really don’t want to know what the question was that prompted that believe me. So I gave a more measured reply of “Wouldn’t it be better to be the person that got to eat off the plate rather than the plate itself, always destined to carry the food rather than eat it?” I was expecting a “But I can eat the food when it’s laying on me” type answer, and not looking forward to the ‘plates don’t have mouths’ debate that would follow. Again.

Her actual response was “But plates are hard working and strong because they can carry all of that food. They have a purpose.” Did I mention she was five? This was definitely the most profound thing she had ever said, certainly more profound than my last drunken offering of ‘Kids are for life, not just the cab ride home’.

So that’s what makes me smile, her crazy statements and her ability to shock the hell out of me in a good way, rather than the riding down the stairs on a tea tray bad way.

So now it’s your turn, I look forward to your responses, and I promise to mention you all in my acceptance speech.